The situation along the Texas-Mexico border has “gotten worse” – that’s the assessment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton after meeting with local law enforcement officials in Laredo.

Local officials estimate there are close to 700 “stash houses” operating in Laredo alone in which illegal aliens are kept after initially crossing the border.

As Attorney General Paxton and I walked along the Rio Grande north of Laredo, Border Patrol agents pointed out cartel “spotters” just a hundred yards across the river whose job it is to track American law enforcement activities. The cartels carefully monitor Border Patrol shift changes, travel patterns, and response times so they can better traffic people, weapons, and narcotics into Texas.

At night, gun fire echoes across the river as rival gangs fight each other and – sometimes – Mexican police or military forces. Everyone patrolling the river knows to duck, a Border Patrol agent told me; not because those guns are intentionally aimed across the border, but because stray gunfire can still kill you.

While Democrats and the media paint a picture of illegal aliens as families seeking a better life, the reality is more stark. The National Border Patrol Council’s Sergio Moreno told me upwards of 94 percent of those crossing in the Laredo sector are single men with violent records. And of the 52,000 apprehensions so far in Fiscal Year 2021, just under half are “other than Mexicans.”

A common theme from everyone along the border is that “every bit helps” – deployment of the Texas’ National Guard troops, state and local law enforcement, and of course money. While those bodies serve as a visual deterrent, none actually have the authority to detain the illegal aliens and send them back across the border. That authority – as everyone explains it – rests with a federal government headed by Joe Biden, who has made it clear deportation isn’t on the table.

And so, without bold action on Texas’ part, those “troops on the border” are becoming window dressing.

As Attorney General Paxton explained, the effect of SCOTUS’ Arizona v United States is that state and local officials cannot deport illegal aliens. If they try to do so, the federal government could charge the individual officer – the sheriff’s deputy, the police officer, the state trooper – with kidnapping, for example. The Supreme Court asserted the case that the “Supremacy Clause” of the Constitution gives Congress the power to pre-empt state law – and Congress has given no wiggle room for states to protect the international borders or send illegal aliens home.

Paxton made it clear that the State of Texas must be willing to confront the Biden administration (and that flawed 2012 Supreme Court ruling) if we are to protect Texans from the escalating cartel violence.

Platitudes from the governor and statewide officials simply aren’t enough. Without bold action by Texas, a dire situation will continue to get worse.