The Back Mic: Cornyn, Cruz Convene Border Tour, Attorney General Declines ‘Invasion’ Opinion Request, Paxton Up in 2026 U.S. Senate Poll

The Back Mic: Cornyn, Cruz Convene Border Tour, Attorney General Declines ‘Invasion’ Opinion Request, Paxton Up in 2026 U.S. Senate Poll

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Cornyn, Cruz Lead Senate GOP Border Delegation

Texas’ two senators announced a joint tour of the state’s southern border along with four of their Senate GOP colleagues.

Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) will tour the border in the Rio Grande Valley with state and federal law enforcement on July 14 and 15. They will be joined by Sens. James Lankford (R-OK), Joni Ernst (R-IA), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Ron Johnson (R-WI).

“This crisis is not getting better because the Biden Administration is simply not enforcing the law,” Cornyn said. “The sheer numbers of people coming across the border are keeping the Border Patrol from their primary job, which allows drug cartels to move illicit drugs that kill thousands of Americans every year.”

Cruz added, “Texans are the front line of our border crisis. Our communities suffer from the rampant influx of drugs and illegal immigration, and we suffer from the crime that accompanies it.”

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“We must do more as a country to secure our borders, but at the very least we cannot backslide by removing the current Remain in Mexico policy that is helping our Border Patrol agents manage the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants coming to the border every month.”

The group will accompany law enforcement on a nighttime patrol, an aerial tour, and meet with local land owners about the consequences they face.

In May, the U.S. Department of Customs and Border Patrol encountered almost 240,000 illegal border crossers, up from the 20-year high in April.

Attorney General Declines to Opine on Border “Invasion” Declaration

“The issue you raise in your opinion request involves a potential claim under consideration by States and State Attorneys General across the country in our efforts to stop illegal immigration,” Paxton said in a letter response to state Rep. Matt Krause’s (R-Fort Worth) opinion request dated June 7 but put out on Twitter on July 8.

“While we consider that and similar new claims against the federal government, it would be improper, and could compromise Texas’s litigation strategy, to comment on and telegraph the State’s position and arguments on this issue through an advisor Attorney General opinion.”

Krause made the request back in April after the Arizona attorney general stated his state could rightfully declare an invasion, giving it more enforcement powers over what is typically a federal government responsibility. In the last few weeks, a growing number of Texas border counties are either declaring an invasion themselves or urging the governor to explicitly declare one.

Krause declined to comment on the response from Paxton.

After issuing his executive order, Abbott received criticism from some in the conservative ranks — including former Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli, who was among those first calling for invocation of Article I, Sec. 10 of the U.S. Constitution in declaring an invasion — over the directive’s effectiveness.

“[T]he Governor does not appear to formally declare an invasion nor direct the National Guard and Department of Public Safety to remove illegals across the border directly to Mexico,” Cuccinelli said.

An Abbott spokesman responded, saying, “Anyone who suggests we should order Texas law enforcement to go into Mexico with these illegal immigrants would be subjecting our DPS troopers and Texas National Guard soldiers to arrest by Mexico.”

Poll Puts Paxton Up 20 Points on Cornyn in Theoretical 2026 Matchup

The Defend Texas Liberty PAC, run by former state Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), released polling of a potential 2026 matchup between Cornyn and Paxton.

Conducted July 9-10, the poll surveyed 1,918 GOP primary voters and found Paxton up 20 percent on Texas’ senior senator. Paxton was the only name against whom Cornyn was tested. The race is a long way off, four years down the road, but the polling comes after a tumultuous month for Cornyn within his party.

The senator spearheaded bipartisan gun reform negotiations in the U.S. Senate and was booed during his Texas GOP convention speech.

The Defend Texas Liberty PAC’s survey puts Cornyn’s favorable and unfavorable ratings among GOP voters even at 46 percent. When told about the gun reform legislation, those surveyed had a less favorable opinion of Cornyn.

Compared to last week’s Texas Politics Project poll, Cornyn’s GOP unfavorable rating is only 4 percent lower than among the voting population writ large.

With Cornyn’s re-election four years away, it’s unclear how much staying power this gun reform bill has in the minds of GOP voters. And Paxton, who has made no public statement about a potential run for U.S. Senate in 2026, remains popular among much of the GOP base despite controversies, criticism, and being pushed to a runoff earlier this year — which he won handily over Land Commissioner George P. Bush.