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Texas State Attorney General Ken Paxton

(The Center Square) – The ongoing illegal immigration crisis at the southern border, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says, is an opportunity for the nation to unite, because “we’re in the fight of our lives.”

Paxton is hosting a two-day border summit for 12 state attorneys general in McAllen, Edinburg, Weslaco and Rio Grande City on Thursday and Friday.

Some of the attorneys general already have been to the southern border, and this summit will be another opportunity for them to meet with law enforcement officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Texas AG said. They will participate in round table discussions, and take a border wall tour and a boat tour on the Rio Grande River.

Paxton has been at the forefront of fighting President Joe Biden over the border crisis, having sued the administration over it seven times.

“Biden’s disastrous immigration policies have wreaked havoc on our communities and placed a massive burden on our state and nation,” Paxton said. “I want to thank our local, state, and federal law enforcement officials, as well as my fellow attorneys general, for making this issue a top priority. Because of the scale of this crisis, the effects of unprecedented levels of illegal immigration are felt by all states. Violence, drugs, human trafficking, and unsustainable costs on our communities follow in the wake of wave upon wave of illegal immigration. My colleagues and I are meeting to discuss what else we can do to stop it.”

The attorneys general attending the border summit are from Arkansas, Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia. All are Republicans.

Two of them attended a recent Texas Public Policy Foundation event in Austin to discuss actions they’ve taken against the Biden administration, why they’re supporting Paxton’s efforts, and how illegal immigration is impacting their states: Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Rutledge argues that every area of life in Arkansas is being impacted by illegal immigration, especially with the amount of illicit fentanyl being trafficked north through Texas into Arkansas.

This impacts the state’s “overdose rates, it impacts our workforce, our education, our economy. Everything is negatively impacted because of the open border policies of the Biden administration,” she said. “But for the state of Texas using its resources and other states like those of Arkansas adding resources, we would not have as secure of a border as we have.”

Arkansas has successfully sued opioid manufacturers for their role in the drug crisis, she said, and the state’s put millions of dollars into education, awareness and law enforcement interdiction efforts. But “when you boil all the water out, we have to stop the influx of fentanyl and illegal drugs, even illegal prescription drugs from entering into our communities,” she said.

While Utah isn’t physically contiguous to the southern border with Texas, everything that Texas is dealing with, Reyes said, “is coming up to Utah. The amount of deaths we have to deal with are from fentanyl or fentanyl-laced drugs is increasing exponentially. There are enough drugs pouring in from the south to kill our entire nation many times over. It is that serious. It is that sobering.”

Reyes said he's visiting Texas again “because we all have to be working on this because the open border policy that we have in the Biden administration is allowing drugs and human trafficking to proliferate” and is “a clear and present danger and epidemic in our nation.”

The AGs were part of a group of 16 that called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to take measures against the Chinese and Mexican governments for their role in trafficking illicit drugs into the U.S.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas maintains the southern border is secure and the Biden administration’s approach to immigration is more humane than the Trump administration’s.

Customs and Border Protections reports that its agents made nearly 2 million enforcement actions against illegal immigrants, including known criminals, since Biden took office. In his first year in office, Biden didn’t visit the southern border, or Texas. He hasn’t yet responded to requests made by Texas lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, to close the border, or from Republican governors to consider solutions they offered.

“We’re in a fight for our freedom, for our lives,” Paxton said. The 27 lawsuits his office filed against the Obama administration in his first 27 months “pales in comparison to what we’re fighting now. It’s twice as aggressive at least,” he says.

“There’s a complete disregard for the U.S. Constitution. There’s a complete disregard for federal law. There’s a disregard for state’s rights. There’s a disregard for even court orders that come from the U.S. Supreme Court. One example is the Remain in Mexico program where we have fought and won over and over all the way up to the Supreme Court. Then the Biden administration just ignores the court orders. And they implement it for just barely 200 people a month when we have nearly 200,000 coming across every month.”

Paxton says state attorneys general are going to play a crucial role and “if we’re not all standing up right now, I’m convinced that we are going to lose our country.”