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López Obrador accuses Abbott of passing state immigration law to land GOP vice presidential nomination

López Obrador told the press he intended to protect “our countrymen and migrants,” explaining that Mexico was planning on passing a law that would act as a countermeasure to the new Texas law

El presidente de México, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO)
El presidente de México, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) | EFE/José Méndez

December 20, 2023 7:38am

Updated: December 20, 2023 1:49pm

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador lashed out against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for signing a state law into effect that preempts U.S. federal immigration law, empowering state law enforcement agents to arrest illegal border crossers.

ADN reported that Abbott signed the law into effect earlier this week on Monday.

The Mexican president accused Abbott of violating the preemption doctrine as a political stunt to land his name as a vice presidential nominee for the upcoming 2024 presidential election.

López Obrador, directed his criticism of the Texas governor during a press conference on Tuesday while offering journalists background on the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War.

“He wants to be the Republican Party’s vice-presidential candidate. In the United States he wants to gain popularity with these measures,” the Mexican president said to the press corps in his country.

“You are not going to win anything,” he warned Abbott. “On the contrary, he will lose sympathy because in Texas there are many Mexicans, many migrants. He forgets that Texas was from Mexico like 10 states of the American Union.” 

López Obrador told the press he intended to protect “our countrymen and migrants,” explaining that Mexico was planning on passing a law that would act as a countermeasure to the new Texas law.

The new Texas statute banned migrants from illegally crossing the border and makes such actions a misdemeanor under the state criminal code.

It empowers “peace officers” to ask any person about their national citizenship if they have a belief that individual entered the U.S. unlawfully. Once they are arrested and processed through the criminal justice system, a magistrate judge can order them out of the country.

A peace officer is defined broadly under the Texas Penal Code such as any municipal or state law enforcement official, security officers or officers of the state medical board.

López Obrador’s statements are not the first criticisms he has channeled against Abbott.

The two have traded public jabs amid the immigration crisis ever since Abbott began bussing undocumented migrants to cities in Democratic states such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

In October, the Mexican president also declined a U.S. request to establish migrant transit centers in his country.

The Mexican president reiterated his criticism of Abbott on Tuesday, saying that the Lone Star governor was dismissing the history of America being “consolidated and strengthened” by migrants.

He also took a shot at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for engaging in the same bussing practice as Abbott, asserting that former Ambassador Nikki Haley’s new lead was attributable to Florida’s immigration practices.

“He (Ron DeSantis) was ahead in the polls. He was not ahead of Trump, but he was in second place and he started with those measures and fell,” López Obrador said. 

“This is what will happen to the governor of Texas with those decisions,” López Obrador said.

Abbott’s decision is just the recent of many in which he has used the state criminal code and law enforcement apparatus to try and curb the migration crisis at the southwest border.

Among the many practices the Lone Star state has engaged in include making automobile stops to check driver licenses, holding suspected illegal border crossers in jail to be turned over to CBP officials for deportation despite pending asylum applications and placing buoys in the Rio Grande river as a means of creating a floating barrier.

He also launched Operation Lone Star, a massive National Guard call up by the governor, using his power as the state’s chief executive to mobilize federal troops to the border.

While Abbott faces criticism from his southern neighbor, he must also contend with legal challenges in court from the American Civil Liberties Union and Texas Civil Rights Project.

Both organizations filed lawsuits on Tuesday in hopes of compelling a court to strike down the new law as unconstitutional. 

“Governor Abbott’s efforts to circumvent the federal immigration system and deny people the right to due process is not only unconstitutional, but also dangerously prone to error, and will disproportionately harm Black and Brown people regardless of their immigration status,” Anand Balakrishnan, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU, said in a statement.

The lawsuits argue that the new Texas state law violates Article VI, Clause 2 of the Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause, which makes clear that state law can never supersede U.S. federal law.

One of the plenary powers granted exclusively to the federal government as part of the nation’s federalist system is control over the immigration system.

The bill, known as Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) is set to take effect in March. The Texas governor gave a statement to Politico, saying his state had the right to protect itself from crises.

“President Biden has repeatedly refused to enforce federal immigration laws already on the books and do his job to secure the border. In his absence, Texas has the constitutional authority to secure our border through historic laws like SB 4,” Abbott said in a statement to the Washington based political news site.

He added that Texas would see the fight through legal channels all the way to the Supreme Court.

Executive Editor

Gelet Martínez Fragela

Gelet Martínez Fragela is the founder and editor-in-chief of ADN America. She is a Cuban journalist, television producer, and political refugee who also founded ADN Cuba.