The Supreme Court voted 5–4 to allow U.S. Border Patrol agents to remove razor wire that was set up along the U.S.–Mexico border by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, while a legal challenge plays out.
Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor, sided with the Biden administration. No one provided an explanation for their vote.
In the application, she also rejected the idea that federal agents have done anything illegal or improper.
“Border Patrol agents’ exercise of discretion regarding the means of enabling the apprehension, inspection and processing of noncitizens in no way suggests that they cut wire for impermissible purposes,” the solicitor general wrote.
In court papers, the administration also asserts that, in any case, federal immigration law trumps Texas’s efforts to stem the flow of migrants into the country.
Earlier this year, Mr. Paxton filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration and multiple federal agencies and officials for destroying the razor wire. He and other state officials have argued that federal agents cut the wire to help groups crossing illegally through the river before taking them in for processing.
“Federal agents have developed and implemented a practice of destroying Texas’s concertina wire to encourage, induce, and assist thousands of aliens to illegally cross the Rio Grande and enter Texas,” Mr. Paxton said in a statement in October 2023. “Federal agents in some cases attempted to ease aliens’ ability to illegally climb up the riverbank into Texas by attaching ropes or cables to the back of pickup trucks. Federal agents regularly cut new openings in the wire fence, sometimes immediately after Texas officers have placed new wire to plug gaps in fencing barriers.”
Mr. Abbott has also authorized installing floating barriers in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, Texas, and allowed troopers to arrest and jail thousands of migrants on trespassing charges. The Biden administration is also challenging those actions in federal court. A federal appeals court last month forced federal agents to stop cutting the concertina wire. Large numbers of migrants have crossed at Eagle Pass in recent months.
In a separate case, the U.S. 5th Court of Appeals in December 2023 ordered Texas to do away with a 1,000-foot-long buoy barrier in the Rio Grande, also designed to block illegal immigration. The court sided with the Biden administration, which argued that the barrier makes the Rio Grande difficult to navigate.
This month, Texas denied entry to Border Patrol agents around Shelby Park in Eagle Pass after Mr. Abbott said the state won’t allow agents “on that property anymore,” widening a dispute with the Biden administration.
“We said, ‘We’ve had it. We’re not going to let this happen anymore,’” the governor said earlier this month, referring to the dispute.