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Federal government asks Supreme Court to allow agents to cut through razor wire on the Texas border

A young girl is lifted over concertina wire are she and other other migrants crossed the Rio Grande and entered the U.S. from Mexico head to be processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Eagle Pass, Texas.
Eric Gay
/
AP
A young girl is lifted over concertina wire are she and other other migrants crossed the Rio Grande and entered the U.S. from Mexico head to be processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Eagle Pass, Texas.

The Biden administration has turned to the U.S. Supreme Court in its dispute with Gov. Greg Abbott over the installation of razor wire on the northern banks of the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass.

The White House on Tuesday asked the high court to allow federal agents to cut through portions of the wire if they deem it necessary. The latest action comes after the state sued the administration in October, claiming federal agents were destroying state property and preventing Texas National Guard and Department of Public Safety officers from securing the border.

A federal judge ruled in the Biden administration’s favor, but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals later decided the judge misunderstood a law that spells out what the federal government can be sued for, Reuters reported. U.S. Border Patrol agents have said they sometimes need to cut through the wire and move other barriers to ensure the safety of their officers and the migrants themselves. The appeals court decision said that agents could cut the wire if there was a medical emergency, but the Biden administration said in its request to the Supreme Court that wasn’t enough to ensure federal agents could do their jobs.

“The injunction prohibits agents from passing through or moving physical obstacles erected by the State that prevent access to the very border they are charged with patrolling,” the filing states. “While Texas and the court of appeals believed a narrow exception permitting agents to cut the wire in case of extant medical emergencies would leave federal agents free to address life-threatening conditions, they ignored the uncontested evidence that it can take 10 to 30 minutes to cut through Texas’s dense layers of razor wire; by the time a medical emergency is apparent, it may be too late to render life-saving aid.”

The razor wire is part of Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, a state-led border mission that began almost three years ago that has cost the state billions in taxpayer dollars. Abbott has said the action is necessary because of what he calls Biden’s “open border” policies that have led to record apprehensions on the state’s southern border.

The U.S. government is asking the high court to put the Fifth Circuit’s decision on hold as the case plays out. The Biden administration also argued in the filing that immigration and border enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government, not states.

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Julián Aguilar | The Texas Newsroom