Fresh off his victory in an impeachment effort led by Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit against the Biden Administration over the removal of border fencing and razor wire by federal Border Patrol agents. The Biden Administration has filed a number of lawsuits against the Lonestar State over efforts the state has taken to stem the flow of illegal aliens on the southern border.
Paxton is suing the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol over the dismantling of state-imposed border 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,” reads the lawsuit, which was filed earlier this week.
“Texas brings this lawsuit to end this ongoing, unlawful practice which undermines its border security efforts. This Court can and should enjoin the federal defendants from continuing to destroy and damage private property that is not theirs—without statutory authority and in violation of both state and federal law,” the suit argues.
In response to record numbers of illegal entries, Texas installed razor wire fencing in the heavily trafficked Eagle Pass border crossing earlier this year. In a number of videos, Border Patrol agents were seen cutting holes in the fencing in order to allow illegal aliens to freely enter the country.
In one instance, a Border Patrol agent fist-bumped a newly arrived migrant as he strolled across the border.
Border Patrol officials have contended that the agency has a legal obligation to take migrants into custody when encountered. In the instances where fencing was cut, border officials have argued that migrants were already on U.S. soil and were then required to be allowed past the barriers.
“The reality of the law is that once they’re in the United States, they have to be taken into custody, that barbed wire is in the United States, it’s already inland,” Art Del Cueto, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, told News Nation last month. “When those individuals reach the barbed wire, it is the job of the agents to detain them and protect them into custody.
The Texas lawsuit highlights that DHS has used razor wire fencing in the past and acknowledged that it serves as a “deterrent” to prevent illegal crossings. Paxton also noted that the wire was installed in September, when the Eagle Pass crossing was dealing with unprecedented surges in migrant crossings.
“That two-week surge in Eagle Pass is roughly the same as the total number of alien apprehensions for the entire Del Rio Sector for the entire year in each of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2017, and 2018,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit points to a number of instances in which Border Patrol or other federal officials intervened to dismantle barriers along the southern border. “As a result of Defendants’ destruction of concertina wire, Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer harm and a real and immediate threat of repeated injury in the future. Plaintiff owns the concertina wire that has been placed in border locations and Defendants’ repeated destruction of Plaintiff’s property has diminished Texas’s efforts to secure the border, increasing its costs for providing healthcare, public education, incarceration, and driver’s licenses,” the lawsuit says.
In a statement after filing the legal action, Paxton affirmed that Texas has the right to secure its border with Mexico.
“Americans across the country were horrified to watch Biden’s open-border policy in action: agents were physically cutting wires and assisting the aliens’ entry into our state. This is illegal. It puts our country and our citizens at risk,” he said. “The courts must put a stop to it, or Biden’s free-for-all will make this crushing immigration crisis drastically worse.”
Texas is currently battling the Biden Administration over a water-based barrier placed in the Rio Grande river near Eagle Pass. The federal government contends that it has sole authority over the nation’s borders and has accused Texas of violating federal law.
A federal appellate court has allowed the barrier to remain in place while the lawsuit plays out.