FIRST ON FOX: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday sued the Biden administration over the alleged cutting of razor wire set up by Texas at the border to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants into the United States.
Paxton is suing the Department of Homeland Security, and Customs and Border Protection officials over what it says has been the federal government’s practice of cutting or damaging the concertina wire that has been positioned along with border with Mexico to prevent illegal immigrants entering the U.S.
“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 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas says.
“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,” it argues.
Texas installed razor wire in Eagle Pass, Texas as part of its efforts to stop illegal crossings. It is one of a number of border barriers the state has undertaken, including building its own wall and a buoy barrier in the Rio Grande.
But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott posted video last month of Border Patrol agents appearing to cut the wire to allow migrants to pass through and be processed. He responded by ordering the wire to be replaced.
Officials and Border Patrol union officials have previously stressed that migrants can still be on U.S. soil even if they are on the other side of barriers – whether it be wire or a border wall — and Border Patrol agents must still apprehend them and take them into custody. There have been other instances where Border Patrol agents have opened gates or other barriers in order to take migrants into custody.
“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 razor wire has been used before to secure borders and that DHS has said it “serves as a deterrent” to prevent illegal crossings. The lawsuit also notes that the wire came during September, when the U.S. was seeing record migrant crossings that broke records. The suit says that over two weeks in September, 14,000 migrants crossed into Eagle Pass.
“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,” it says.
The lawsuit says that in September and October, the federal government seized or damaged the wire more than 20 times. It says it is damaging private property and disrupting border security.
“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.
Paxton, in a statement, says that Texas has a sovereign right to construct barriers to prevent illegal migration.
“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.”
The lawsuit comes amid ongoing scrutiny over the Biden administration’s handling of the crisis at the southern border. FY 23 saw a record number of migrant encounters at the border. Meanwhile, the administration recently doubled down on its opposition to border walls after citing an “acute and immediate” need to waive federal regulations to allow construction in South Texas.
DHS said that it was spending money appropriated by Congress in an FY 2019 appropriation, and that it had sought to have Congress divert the money elsewhere but it had not done so.