The Biden administration can no longer remove the razor wire fences that the state of Texas installed along its border with Mexico to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing into the country.
This week, Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Texas’ favor in the case.
Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, had appealed a November ruling handed down by U.S. District Judge Alia Moses, who said Texas didn’t provide sufficient evidence that the Biden administration was breaking the law when it sent agents to cut the wire fencing.
Duncan disagreed with that ruling, though, writing on Tuesday that the district court “legally erred” in its ruling.
In his opinion, Duncan wrote the lower court “received copious documentary evidence” at the hearings, “heard testimony from multiple witnesses … [and] numerous fact findings supporting Texas’ claims.”
Duncan’s ruling is only temporary, allowing the legal battle to play out in court. In essence, the ruling says that the Biden administration can’t take any action at all to remove the barriers that Texas set up until an official decision is handed down by a federal judge.
In the opinion, the court wrote:
“Defendants are ENJOINED during the pendency of this appeal from damaging, destroying or otherwise interfering with Texas’s [concertina]-wire fence in the vicinity of Eagle Pass, Texas, as indicated in Texas’s complaint.”
Under the directive of Republican Governor Greg Abbott, Texas agents have installed razor wire barriers on land barriers between the state and Mexico, as well as floating barriers in the Rio Grande. This all started in September and is part of what Texas is calling Operation Lone Star.
The state took matters into its own hands in this way since the Biden administration has continued to pursue what they call an “open border policy.” This all comes as Paxton has said that migrants are four times more likely to be deported during the Biden administration that during the previous administration led by former President Donald Trump.
The federal government insists that it has the authority to regulate all border policy, and authority over navigable waters in the country. As such, it ordered Texas to remove those barriers that it erected.
The same appellate court ruled against Texas earlier in December on a separate but related case, ordering the state to remove all floating barriers it placed in the Rio Grande, since those are international waters.
The court, though, ruled in favor of Texas for the barriers that were constructed on land. Those are the barriers that federal agents are now barred from removing as the appeals in the case play out.
The court didn’t rule on whether the federal government has sole authority over enforcement at the border, but it did say its claim over “sovereign immunity” about those issues wasn’t sufficient enough for it to be able to remove the barriers as the case was preceding through the court system.