By Ted Hesson
EAGLE PASS, Texas (Reuters) – Texas Governor Greg Abbottjoined by his fellow Republican governors on Sunday, pledged to defy the Biden administration and maintain state control over a hot spot on the U.S. border “as long as it takes.”
Abbott clashed with Democratic president Joe Biden on the state’s aggressive tactics to deter those crossing, including troops, concertina cables and a floating buoy in the Rio Grande.
The Biden administration has maintained that border control is strictly a federal matter, but Abbott deployed the Texas National Guard to Shelby Park in the border town of Eagle Pass, where he hosted Sunday’s news conference with the Republican governors of 13 other states.
They stood in front of Texas state military vehicles, just steps from the shipping containers and concertina cables that block access to the park along the Rio Grande.
Abbott said Shelby Park, which has been at the center of a standoff between state and federal officials, “will remain under control for as long as necessary to maintain safety and eliminate crossings.”
“We can give up control of it tomorrow if Joe Biden would do exactly what we’re doing here and stop people from crossing the border illegally,” Abbott told reporters.
As he spoke, activists from sites opposed to the issue held competing protests near the park. Several dozen immigrant rights activists and opponents of illegal immigration demonstrated without incident.
Four of the other governors spoke at the news conference: Bill Lee of Tennessee, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Greg Gianforte of Montana and Sarah Huckabee Sanders of Arkansas. They took turns accusing Biden of being weak on border security.
Immigration has become an important political issue ahead of the Nov. 5 election, which will likely pit Biden against the former president. President Donald Trump.
Trump motivated his voting base by calling for more restrictive border policies. His detractors say this…