Texas has dismissed an order by the Biden administration to allow federal agents full access to a park that was seized by the state along the U.S.-Mexico border last week where three migrants later drowned.
In a letter sent to the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday, Texas’ attorney general squarely blamed the federal government for the migrants’ deaths and said his state will not “surrender to President Biden’s open-border policies.”
“The [DHS] should stop wasting scarce time and resources suing Texas, and start enforcing the immigration laws Congress already has on the books,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said in his letter.
Texas National Guard soldiers stand guard on the banks of the Rio Grande River at Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, Texas, on Jan. 12.
“Because the facts and law side with Texas, the State will continue utilizing its constitutional authority to defend her territory, and I will continue defending those lawful efforts in court,” he added.
The letter follows the Biden administration demanding that the U.S. Border Patrol have “full access” to Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, which is city-owned and located along the Rio Grande. The Texas National Guard and the Texas Military Department occupied the park last week, claiming its need for law enforcement and disaster relief purposes amid the state’s ongoing efforts to curb migrants’ illegal entry into the U.S.
DHS’s top lawyer, Jonathan Meyer, told Paxton in a letter Sunday that the park’s seizure, which includes armed guards, fencing and concertina wire spanning roughly 2.5 miles, has resulted in Border Patrol agents being unable to access federal property, perform general operations, and provide emergency assistance to those in need.
The Department of Justice has accused the Texas National Guard of blocking Border Patrol agents from carrying out their duties along the river.
This resulted in Friday’s drownings after Border Patrol agents were contacted about a group of migrants attempting to cross the river but denied access to the area, Meyer said. He warned that the matter would be taken to the Department of Justice if full access was not granted by the end of the day Wednesday.
A DHS representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
“Texas has demonstrated that even in the most exigent circumstances, it will not allow Border Patrol access to the border to conduct law enforcement and emergency response activities,” Meyer wrote. “Texas’s actions are clearly unconstitutional and are actively disrupting the federal government’s operations.”
Paxton, in his response, denied the state was told about any rescue being needed and said they only learned about it after bodies were recovered by Mexican officials. He further argued that a federal law giving Border Patrol agents access to all private land along the border comes with the requirement that it is doing so to prevent the illegal entry of aliens.
“President Biden has ordered your agency to do the exact opposite, in keeping with his open-borders campaign promise. There is not even a pretense that you are trying to prevent the illegal entry of aliens,” he said. “If you really care about migrants being put in ‘imminent danger to life and safety,’ your agency should stop driving them into the waters of the river.”