Texas's Refusal to Relinquish Park Control Sparks Homeland Security's Legal Threat

  • by:
  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 01/17/2024
In response to Texas's refusal to relinquish control of a park along the Rio Grande River, the Department of Homeland Security has threatened legal action, arguing that the conduct is illegal and interferes with Border Patrol activities along the border.

"Texas's actions are obviously unconstitutional and intentionally obstruct the functioning of the federal government." A copy of the letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which Fox News Digital was able to get, states, "We demand that Texas cease and desist its efforts to block Border Patrol's access in and around the Shelby Park area and remove all barriers to access in the Shelby Park area."

After serving as a staging place for processing amid migrant surges in the popular crossing corridor, Texas seized control of Shelby Park in Eagle Pass on Wednesday. 

As to the Texas Military Department, the purpose of the action was to disband groups that "perpetuate illegal immigrant crossings in the park and greater Eagle Pass area" and to be ready for any future waves of illegal immigrants. 

It signaled a sharp increase in the already high level of hostilities over border security between Texas and the federal government. Between the two parties, there are many active litigation at the moment.

According to DHS's letter, Texas is obstructing Border Patrol from within about 2.5 miles of the border, and some of the obstacles Texas has put up are located on federal property. "While Texas has claimed that it has re-opened the use of Shelby Park to the public, it continues to prevent Border Patrol from entering, and from using the area under the adjacent port of entry where Border Patrol has certain property stored for use when migrants are apprehended," read the statement.

The letter makes reference to Arizona v. U.S., a 2012 Supreme Court decision that determined the federal government had extensive authority over immigration and border security.

The letter also draws attention to a previous incident in which it claims Border Patrol was prevented from visiting the region, resulting in the drowning of three migrants, including two children. Texas has responded to claims that it stopped the Border Patrol from saving the lives of migrants by saying that such claims are "wholly inaccurate" and that when officers asked to enter the area, corpses had already been collected by Mexican officials.

The letter states that "we will refer the matter to the Department of Justice for appropriate action and consider all other options available to restore Border Patrol's access to the border" if it does not hear from Texas by the end of the business day on Wednesday that it will stop and desist from blocking access and remove barriers.

As part of the continuing legal dispute over the Biden administration's removal of Texas-installed razor wire meant to prevent unauthorized crossings, the Biden administration has already filed a complaint with the Supreme Court about the topic. The installation of buoys in the Rio Grande and a new anti-illegal immigration statute that Abbott signed into law, enabling state and local law enforcement to detain undocumented immigrants, have both been the subject of separate lawsuits from the administration.

After a record-breaking 2.4 million interactions in FY 23, there were almost 302,000 encounters with migrants in December alone. 

Abbott has come under fire from the White House for allegedly attempting to "politicize the border" via his actions. "Whether it is leaving migrants on the side of the road in the dead of winter, installing razor wire to make Border Patrol’s job more dangerous, promoting extreme and unconstitutional laws like S.B. 4, or his latest actions in Eagle Pass, Governor Abbott has repeatedly proven that he is not interested in solutions and only seeks to politicize the border," the statement said. 

"The President has made it very clear that our immigration system is flawed and that we need more funding as well as adjustments to our policies. That's why he brought a comprehensive immigration reform proposal to Congress on his first day in office, and that's why he's trying to come to a bipartisan deal with Congress that includes real changes and money," they said.

When asked about the letter, Paxton's office did not provide a response. However, Abbott said that he plans to stick with his strategy. Abbott said on X, previously known as Twitter, on Monday that "Biden is doing everything possible to eliminate strategies that actually prevent illegal immigrants from entering our country." "Texas will continue to use every tool possible to block illegal immigration."


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