Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday said he will add more razor wire at the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent more illegal immigrants from entering the United States, coming after the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Biden administration and allowed federal agents to cut the wire.
The governor said his state has the authority to defy the U.S. government under the U.S. Constitution because its authors—the Founding Fathers—believed that “there would be times when the federal government does not do its job and states have a right of self-defense.”
Lt. Chris Olivarez, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, wrote that the state’s Operation Lone Star will keep “its current posture” of setting up razor wire and other barriers to block illegal immigration into the state.
“The logical concern should be why the federal government continues to hinder Texas’ ability to protect its border, all while allowing for the exploitation, dangerous, & inhumane methods of permitting illegal immigrants, including children, to illegally cross a dangerous river where many have lost their lives,” Mr. Olivarez said on social media.
Mr. Abbott’s comment signals an escalation in a legal battle between the state of Texas and the federal government after Texas seized Shelby Park near Eagle Pass, while there are lawsuits against the Biden administration’s recent moves to cut razor wire that was set up by the Texas National Guard. Texas also set up a floating barrier in the middle of the Rio Grande border crossing area, although a court ordered the state to remove that barrier.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Biden administration when it granted an emergency appeal to allow federal agents to cut the razor wire. The 5–4 order allows federal agents to only cut the razor wire, and it does not prohibit Texas from setting up the wire, some legal analysts have noted.
The Supreme Court’s order did not provide an explanation. Those who voted in favor include Chief Justice John Roberts as well as Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Sonia Sotomayor, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and Elena Kagan. Those who voted against include Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh.
That ruling set aside a lower court decision that blocked federal officials from cutting the wire, installed along the shore of the Rio Grande inside Texas. The order did not touch on a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in October to block agents from destroying or seizing the razor wire barriers.
As Mr. Abbott vowed to set up more razor wire, a spokesperson for the White House described it as a mere “political stunt,” which will “make it harder and more dangerous for frontline personnel to do their jobs,” according to a statement. “Ultimately, we need adequate resources and policy changes to address our broken immigration system.”
It comes as a top federal immigration official told The Associated Press last month that illegal crossings topped 10,000 during some days in December. Arrests for illegal crossings topped 2 million for the first time each of the U.S. government’s last two budget years, reflecting technological changes that have increased global mobility that has prompted people to leave their homes.
Arrests of people in families neared 72,000 in the Tucson sector from Oct. 1 through Dec. 9, more than nine times the same period last year. That’s a big change from when almost all migrants were adult men. Arrests of non-Mexicans topped 75,000, nearly quadruple the number from a year ago and more than half of all sector arrests.
Republicans have said that the increase in illegal immigration is largely due to the Biden administration’s lax policies, noting that early on in his term, President Biden rescinded a number of Trump-era immigration rules.