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Arkansas governor will attend Texas-Mexico border event in support of Abbott

The Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, Texas.
Verónica G. Cárdenas for NPR
The Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, Texas.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will join 14 other Republican governors participating in a border tour and press conference at Eagle Pass, Texas, on Sunday with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Abbott has accused President Joe Biden of “failing to perform his duties to secure the border” and invoked his state’s constitutional duty to defend itself from what he calls an “invasion” of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sanders last month was among 25 governors who sent a letter of support to Abbott for his actions at the border, which have included stretching razor wire along the Rio Grande River. In mid-January, a woman and two children drowned while crossing the river where Texas authorities had blocked U.S. Border Patrol agents from accessing, according to a Biden administration U.S. Supreme Court filing in a lawsuit against the state.

The rift between Texas and the federal government has widened since, and U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, asserted Wednesday that the administration, not Congress, is responsible for taking action on immigration.

In his first speech on the House floor, Johnson said that Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas “have designed this catastrophe. And now, rather than accept any accountability or responsibility for what they have clearly done, President Biden wants to somehow shift the blame to Congress.”

Meanwhile, a bipartisan deal on immigration in the Senate remains uncertain after former President Donald Trump pushed Republican lawmakers to oppose it as he uses border concerns as a key campaign issue in his 2024 run for the presidency.

But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that a vote on the agreement could come as early as next Wednesday.

Sunday’s press conference will take place at 2:30 p.m. Central Time at Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, Texas after the 15 governors receive a briefing on the Operation Lone Star mission to secure the border, according to a press release from Sanders’ office.

Sanders sent Arkansas National Guard troops to Texas last year to help the state’s guardsmen in their border mission.

Also in attendance will be Freeman Martin, deputy director of the Texas Department of Public Safety; Adjutant General of Texas Major General Thomas Suelzer, and Texas Border Czar Mike Banks.

The other governors who will join Abbott at Eagle Pass:

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp

Idaho Gov. Brad Little

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee

In his 50-year career, Sonny Albarado has been an investigations editor, a business editor, a city editor, an environmental reporter and a government reporter at newspapers in Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana. He retired from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2020 after serving as projects editor for 12 ½ years.