The ongoing conflict between Texas and the federal government regarding the management of the US-Mexico border has escalated following Governor Greg Abbott’s declaration of defying the Biden administration and US Supreme Court’s orders by implementing additional razor wire barriers to discourage immigration.
The federal government’s authority to remove the controversial concertina wire along certain sections of the Texas border, as directed by Governor Abbott, was upheld in a 5-4 vote by the supreme court on Monday. However, despite this ruling, Abbott, a staunch Republican, is still pushing to build a fence along parts of the US-Mexico border.
This week, federal agents received additional confirmation from the supreme court that they have the authority to remove the razor wire. The enforcement of immigration law falls under federal jurisdiction. However, Governor Abbott has stated that he can still order the Texas National Guard to continue placing more razor wire. While the national guard is ultimately under the control of the US president as commander-in-chief, in most cases they take orders from their state governor unless the president explicitly takes federal control.
According to the 2012 Supreme Court ruling in Arizona v United States, immigration issues are the responsibility of the federal government, not individual states. Abbott has frequently cited the invasion clause in the US and Texas constitutions as a means to justify his actions on border security and immigration, comparing migrants to a foreign enemy and claiming his right to enforce these matters.
According to Fatma Marouf, a professor of law and the head of the immigrant rights clinic at Texas A&M University’s School of Law, Governor Abbott’s choice to add more fencing appears to go against the intent of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Marouf stated that the highest court’s decision favored the federal government’s ongoing authority over the border region.
The main topic of the meeting was the importance of allowing US customs and border protection officers to reach the riverbank in order to rescue migrants. There have been incidents of individuals getting trapped in the wire and dying. Therefore, continuing to install the wire goes against the purpose of the court order.
Abbott criticized Biden, the Democratic president, in a statement on Wednesday for using taxpayer money to “unlawfully” open the border, as he announced his intention to bypass the federal government despite legal opposition.
Abbott stated that the federal government has violated the agreement between the United States and the states. He also pointed out that the executive branch of the United States has a responsibility, outlined in the Constitution, to uphold these laws, but has failed to do so.
The outcome is that he has broken records for undocumented immigration.
Organizations advocating for civil rights, such as Lulac, expressed strong disapproval of the implementation of razor wire and other tactics, including a buoy and net barrier with barbed wire, along the Rio Grande, deeming them to be inhumane.
Lulac’s national president, Domingo García, stated that the organization supports the supreme court’s decision that grants the federal government sole authority over border and immigration matters. García also criticized Texas Governor Abbott’s actions, calling them costly and ineffective in addressing the humanitarian situation at the border.
Furthermore, we cannot overlook the human suffering caused by the loss of innocent women and children on barbed wire barriers.
In the beginning of this month, a mother and her two children, who were from Mexico, died by drowning in the river close to Eagle Pass. This area of the border had been physically blocked by state officials, preventing federal agents from accessing parts of the Rio Grande banks. These tragic deaths sparked a strong reaction from Luis Miranda, spokesperson for US homeland security, who stated that Texas should not interfere with the US Border Patrol’s duty to enforce US law.
The use of razor wire is part of Abbott’s publicly funded Operation Lone Star program, a joint effort between the Texas department of public safety and the Texas military department that began in 2021 to curb irregular migration. It coincided with more people crossing into the US because they were unable to claim asylum at an official crossing point or by appointment. Meanwhile, tense talks continue in Washington over legislation to tighten border restrictions.
Marouf expressed concern about Texas’s decision and its potential impact on the right to seek asylum.
According to her, our immigration laws ensure the right for individuals to seek asylum when escaping persecution. Erecting barbed wire is contradictory to this purpose.