Thursday, July 18, 2024

Texas sues Biden administration over federal efforts to ‘destroy’ border fencing

The state of Texas and a free market policy group sued the Biden administration Tuesday in response to Border Patrol agents being directed to cut concertina wire fencing erected by state officers in Eagle Pass, Texas, to help secure the southern border.

The wire fencing was put up as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security mission, Operation Lone Star.

The lawsuit was filed by the office of the Attorney General and the Texas Public Policy Foundation in U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas Del Rio Division. It names the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller, Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens, and Del Rio Sector Chief Juan Bernal as defendants.

It is the third OLS-related lawsuit filed in the last couple of months. The first two were filed against Texas after Abbott ordered the installation of marine barriers in the Rio Grande River in Eagle Pass. Texas National Guardsmen and women have also installed thousands of miles of concertina wire and large shipping containers along the riverbank in Eagle Pass, El Paso, Brownsville and other heavily trafficked areas. In other parts of the border, Texas is continuing to build its first border wall.

Last month, Eagle Pass officials declared a state of emergency in response to a surge of thousands of people illegally entering within a few days. In response, Abbott surged additional OLS resources to block illegal entry, including expanding installation of concertina wire.

Border Patrol agents first cut the wire on Sept. 20 in a heavily trafficked area in Eagle Pass, which Texas Border Czar Mike Banks recorded on video. Abbott posted the video on social media saying, “Texas installed razor wire in Eagle Pass to stop illegal crossings. Today, the Biden Admin CUT that wire, opening the floodgates to illegal immigrants. I immediately deployed more Texas National Guard to repel illegal crossings & install more razor wire.”

The lawsuit alleges that since “September 20, 2023, federal agents have developed and implemented a policy, pattern, or practice of destroying Texas’s concertina wire to encourage and assist thousands of aliens to illegally cross the Rio Grande and enter Texas.” They also “attach ropes or cables from the back of pickup trucks to ease aliens’ ability to illegally climb up the riverbank into Texas, … regularly cut new openings in the wire fence, sometimes immediately after Texas officers have placed new wire to plug up gaps in fencing barriers.

“By cutting Texas’s concertina wire, the federal government has not only illegally destroyed property owned by the State of Texas; it has also disrupted the State’s border security efforts, leaving gaps in Texas’s border barriers and damaging Texas’s ability to effectively deter illegal entry into its territory.”

The lawsuit lists instances when Border Patrol agents cut Texas’ concertina wire, each time “admitting an unknown number of aliens through the hole. … CBP has seized and damaged Texas’s concertina wire to escort aliens into Texas more than 20 times. On each of these occasions, CBP has entered onto state, municipal, or private land to destroy state property. Plaintiff has not placed concertina wire on any federal land near Eagle Pass.”

The lawsuit asks the court to block federal agents from destroying Texas property, the concertina wire, and to rule the federal government doesn’t have the statutory authority to destroy Texas’ property. It also alleges the administration is violating federal law including the Administrative Procedures Act.

Abbott has maintained that Texas has the sovereign authority to defend its border and prevent illegal entry into Texas. After the Fifth Circuit handed Texas a win in the federal marine barrier lawsuit, Abbott said Texas will “continue to utilize every strategy to secure the border, including deploying Texas National Guard soldiers and Department of Public Safety troopers and installing strategic barriers. Our battle to defend Texas’ sovereign authority to protect lives from the chaos caused by President Biden’s open border policies has only begun. Texas is prepared to take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The Texas Public Policy Foundation agrees. Its executive director and general counsel, Rob Henneke, told The Center Square, “Enough is enough. The Biden Administration has not only illegally destroyed property owned by Texas, it has also disrupted the State’s border-security efforts. Our lawsuit will stop Biden’s policy of damaging Texas’ ability to effectively deter illegal entry into our state.”