The Biden administration is escalating its legal battle against Texas’s controversial border tactics, taking the fight to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a bold move, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court, aiming to dismantle the dangerous razor wire barriers Texas has installed along the U.S.-Mexico border.
This action follows Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s aggressive strategy to deter migrants. Last fall, Abbott ordered the placement of 29 miles of razor wire along the Rio Grande River. This measure, aimed at preventing migrants from crossing into Texas, has led to numerous injuries among asylum seekers and is likely in violation of international law. In one tragic incident, two asylum seekers were found dead near the razor wire, leading a Texas lawmaker to condemn the setup as a “death trap.”
The situation escalated when U.S. Border Patrol agents began cutting the wire but were halted by a lower court ruling in favor of Texas. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals then granted a stay on the Border Patrol’s plan to continue removing the wire.
The DOJ’s appeal to the Supreme Court argues that the lower courts’ rulings force the federal government to yield to Texas on immigration issues, directly contradicting the U.S. Constitution’s established framework. The federal government’s brief to the Court highlights the inversion of the Supremacy Clause by these rulings, arguing that accepting this rationale would leave the United States at the mercy of individual states’ whims regarding federal immigration law.
Central to the Biden administration’s argument is the protection of Border Patrol personnel. The DOJ maintains that the Fifth Circuit’s actions could hinder agents’ ability to detain and inspect individuals, as the injunction prevents them from passing through or moving physical obstacles erected by the state.
The razor wire dispute is just one facet of Texas’s broader efforts to override federal immigration policy. Recently, the Biden administration warned Texas of a potential lawsuit over proposed legislation that would empower state and local law enforcement to arrest migrants and allow state judges to issue deportation orders. This bill, deemed “extreme” by a White House official, would further endanger communities in Texas, according to the DOJ, which has vowed to block the bill should it become law.
Immigration rights attorneys have widely condemned Texas’s actions as unconstitutional. Anand Balakrishnan, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, criticized Governor Abbott’s attempts to sidestep the federal immigration system. He emphasized that such measures are not only unconstitutional but also error-prone and disproportionately harmful to Black and Brown individuals, regardless of their immigration status.
As the Biden administration stands firm against Texas’s hardline immigration policies, the Supreme Court’s response to this appeal will be closely watched. This case is more than a legal dispute; it’s a critical test of the balance of power between state and federal governments on immigration matters and a reflection of the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. As the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s decision, the fate of countless migrants and the integrity of U.S. immigration policy hang in the balance.