With ‘Texit,’ some want to make Texas a country, again - GulfToday

With ‘Texit,’ some want to make Texas a country, again

Representational image.

Representational image.

Texas, an independent country 200 years ago, now boasts a pocket of people who want that status back, advocating a separation they call Texit. Its advocates say the dramatic move — loosely inspired by Britain’s Brexit from the European Union — would help resolve a roiling immigration border crisis and a fight with Washington over who controls the border with Mexico. That fight, pitting President Joe Biden, a Democrat, and Republican Governor Greg Abbott, has laid bare a rupture in America. “We know here in Texas, the only way that Texas will ever be able to secure the border and have a sensible immigration system is to do like 200 other countries around the world and do so as a self-governing independent nation,” Daniel Miller, president of the Texas Nationalist Movement, told AFP.

Miller insists his movement, created in 2005, has never been so close to achieving its goal. In the 19th century, Texas was actually part of Mexico. But after a war of independence — the so-called Texas Revolution — it achieved sovereign status in 1836. Only nine years later did it join the United States as the 28th state. Miller likens the Texit movement to the 2016 Brexit shock that ultimately saw Britain leaving the european Union. He said Texas shares history and interests with the rest of the United States but, like independence advocates in Spain’s Catalan region, feels the central government does not understand their problems.

As Americans prepare to vote in November, most likely choosing between Biden and Donald Trump, the Texas independence movement wants the state legislature to pass a law allowing a referendum on breaking away.  The US constitution, however, has no clause allowing states to do this — indeed, the secession of Southern states including Texas in 1861 led to the Civil War, the bloodiest war in US history.

There has long been a secessionist movement in Texas, but it has been and remains a fringe movement, according to Joshua Blank, the research director at the Texas Politics Project of the University of Texas at Austin. He said the border crisis between Texas and the federal government “has created a situation that I think this group has really looked to exploit, in order to make their views seem not only more mainstream but really more plausible than they really are,” said Blank.

Misty Walters, a homemaker in her 50s who attended a speech by Miller at a typical Texas barbecue restaurant, said people in the state feel they are Texans first, then Americans.

“We’re absolutely just being invaded,” she said of the record numbers of people pouring over the border, many from Central America, in what has become a key issue in the presidential election.  “And Texas needs to stand up and protect its citizens better,” said Walters. A poll this month by the Texas Politics Project found 26 per cent of those questioned feel they are Texan first and American second, compared to 27 per cent who felt that way in 2014 — a statistically insignificant change.

“Even then, that doesn’t mean that that 26 per cent is in favour of a bloody divorce from the United States,” said Blank. A Newsweek poll this month found that 67 per cent of Texans want the state to remain part of the United States. The separatist movement is fueled largely by the “idea that there is a uniform American culture that is often related to whiteness,” said Blank.

“And to the extent that there is a crisis at the border, it raises fears for people for whom this idea of American culture is somehow valid,” he added.

In the town of Eagle Pass in far southern Texas, Governor Abbott took military control of an area called Shelby Park along the Rio Grande River separating the state from Mexico. It is the site of a high-profile standoff with the federal government.

The governor, accusing the Biden administration of failing to stop huge numbers of people from entering the state, has had razor wire placed along parts of the frontier.

Biden in turn has sued Texas, insisting that border control has always fallen under federal jurisdiction.

Miller, the independence leader, compares the current situation to events in 1835 when Texas was still part of Mexico.

Texas refused to return a cannon that Mexico had lent it and flew a flag that read “Come and take it,” triggering Texas’s successful war of independence.

As with the cannon, tensions around the Eagle Pass park are part of a much bigger problem, said Miller.

He called it a symbol of “a broken relationship between the federal government and the states.”  But unlike the war with Mexico — or the Civil War for that matter — Miller’s people think secession could be peacefully achieved this time. Not likely, said Blank. “Texas would not be able to secede peacefully. The US would not negotiate with them on favourable terms.”

Meanwhile, a nuclear weapons plant in the US state of TEXAS paused operations on Tuesday evening as wildfires in the area approached the facility, while nearby towns were evacuated.

“Operations at the Pantex Plant have paused until further notice. All weapons and special materials are safe and unaffected,” plant operators said in a post on X, formerly Twitter. Satellite imagery from the Amarillo National Weather Service showed the fires spreading near the northern city of Amarillo, spurred by strong winds and unseasonably warm temperatures.

Agence France-Presse

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