Federal officers have been cutting and damaging the wire to let illegal immigrants into Texas.
The Biden administration must stop cutting and otherwise damaging razor wire that Texas has placed along the U.S.–Mexico border, a federal judge ruled on Oct. 30.
U.S. officials mustn’t remove the wire or tamper with it, U.S. District Judge Alia Moses said as she entered a temporary restraining order.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which includes border agents, told news outlets it doesn’t comment on pending litigation but would comply with the order.
“Generally speaking, Border Patrol agents have a responsibility under federal law to take those who have crossed onto U.S. soil without authorization into custody for processing,” the agency said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, called the ruling “another win for Texas and our historic border mission.”
The wire was put into place as the governor’s effort, called Operation Lone Star, to strengthen border security.
“Biden created this crisis and has tried to block us at every turn. Attorney General Paxton and I are pushing back,” Mr. Abbott wrote on X.
The temporary order is in place until Nov. 13, unless the court extends it.
The government is prohibited from removing the wire, concealing it, offering it to another person, selling it, and tampering with it.
A hearing on the bid from Texas for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for Nov. 7.
Damaging the Wire
Mr. Paxton said in his complaint that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents were damaging the wire to allow thousands of illegal immigrants to enter Texas.
“Federal agents not only cut Texas’s concertina wire, but also attach ropes or cables from the back of pickup trucks to ease aliens’ ability to illegally climb up the riverbank into Texas. And they regularly cut new openings in the wire fence, sometimes immediately after Texas officers have placed new wire to plug up gaps in fencing barriers,” Mr. Paxton said.
Several days later, Texas officials asked for the temporary restraining order, pointing to how federal agents had used a forklift on Oct. 26 to hold up some of the wire so that a group of hundreds of immigrants could cross the border.
“This brazen escalation by defendants is an affront not only to Texas, but also to this court, which already had pending before it a motion for a preliminary injunction,” the officials said. “This court should immediately grant a temporary restraining order to enjoin defendants from continuing to damage, destroy, or otherwise meddle with Texas’s concertina wire fence until the court can rule on the state’s preliminary-injunction motion. Alternatively, this court could simply grant a preliminary injunction in light of defendants’ willful misconduct.”
In a notice to the court on Oct. 28, the officials said federal agents damaged another portion of the fence. Texas Military Department officer Roberto Ortiz Diaz attested to witnessing federal agents using a forklift to flatten the fence, letting dozens of illegal immigrants into Texas.
“While the operator was flattening the concertina wire, I observed no medical emergencies among the migrant[s] crossing the river, and I am not aware of any reason for [CBP] agents to flatten the concertina wire other than to allow an easier entry path for migrants arriving in the United States,” Mr. Diaz said.
Federal officials hadn’t yet responded to the various filings as of press time.
Likely to Succeed
Judge Moses said Texas was likely to succeed in its claim that federal officials violated a law that prevents people from trespassing to interfere with a person’s property.
Texas has established that it owns the wires, she said. And multiple officials have said that they witnessed federal officials tamper with the barriers.
“Third and finally, the plaintiff established that the defendants lacked permission to interfere with the wires,” she said.
Judge Moses said that because she determined that Texas was likely to succeed in one of its claims, she need not analyze its other claims.
The other claims include illegally exercising dominion over another’s private property and acting in excess of statutory jurisdiction.
The case is Texas v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security et al. It’s being heard in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.