The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the Biden administration has the authority to remove razor wire installed by the state of Texas across swaths of the state’s border with Mexico.
The 5-4 ruling overturned a December 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that placed an injunction on a lower court order allowing federal agents to cut through the wires, which have been linked to hundreds of reported injuries of migrants attempting to cross the border.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Amy Coney Barrett, both conservative, joined the court’s three liberals in voting to give the federal government authority to remove the razor wire. The court’s other four conservative justices, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh, dissented.
Texas has been locked in a heated battle with the Biden administration over the federal government’s authority over border security enforcement. Earlier this month, Texas’ Republican Governor Greg Abbott approved an order allowing the state’s National Guard to seize control of a major crossing in Eagle Pass, Texas. The state guardsman reportedly barred U.S. border patrol agents from entering the area to respond to reports of three migrants drowning in the Rio Grande, and to provide aid to several other migrants continuing to struggle in the river.
In early January, the Biden administration sued Texas over legislation signed by Abbott that grants local law enforcement the authority to arrest migrants and allow judges to order deportations. The administration argues that the law goes against constitutional mandates granting the federal government authority over border enforcement.
The Supreme Court’s decision to side with the Biden administration is a major victory for advocates arguing that Abbott’s extreme measures to curb undocumented border crossings are not only unconstitutional but are inhumane and physically dangerous to migrants.
The Biden administration has also filed a separate challenge to the Supreme Court over the legality of controversial river barriers deployed on a stretch of the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, which have been linked to multiple drownings. The Department of Justice argues that the methods deployed by Texas’ government represent “an escalation of the State’s measures to block Border Patrol’s ability to patrol or even to surveil the border and be in a position to respond to emergencies.”
Abbott is likely to remain determined to undermine the federal government’s authority over the border. Earlier this month he lamented that Texas can’t shoot migrants trying to cross the border illegally because “the Biden administration would charge us with murder.”
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