Migrants not allowed: Texas Attorney General denies federal agents full border park access

Texas’ attorney general on Friday strongly rejected the Biden administration’s request to provide federal immigration agents full access to a park along the southern border that the state National Guard has surrounded with razor wire, fence, and soldiers.

For three weeks, the federal government and Texas have been at odds over Shelby Park, a city-owned public park in the border town of Eagle Pass that was once a popular spot for illegal migrants to pass.

Texas National Guard soldiers deployed by Gov. Greg Abbott took control of Shelby Park earlier in January and have since barred Border Patrol officials from processing migrants in the area, which was previously used as a makeshift migrant detention facility for the federal agency.

The Department of Homeland Security, which supervises the Border Patrol, gave Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton until Friday to decide if the state will relent and allow federal agents inside Shelby Park. On Friday, however, Paxton rejected the demand, stating that Texas state officials would not enable DHS to convert the area into a “unofficial and unlawful port of entry.”

“Your request is hereby denied,” Paxton stated in his letter.

Paxton made it a point to maintain “Texas’s efforts to protect its southern border against every effort by the Biden Administration to undermine the State’s constitutional right of self-defense.”

Inside Shelby Park, Texas guards have been erecting barricades to hinder the passage of migrants attempting to enter the United States illegally, and urging them to return to Mexico across the Rio Grande. The Texas Department of Public Safety has recently begun detaining adult migrants who enter the park on state criminal trespass charges.

Abbott and other Texas officials have maintained that the state’s actions are intended to prevent migrants from entering the country illegally, accusing the federal government of failing to do enough to stop unauthorized crossings. However, the Biden administration claims Texas is impeding Border Patrol agents from patrolling the Rio Grande, processing migrants, and assisting those in need.

Immigration enforcement is a federal obligation. Texas state officials are not constitutionally allowed or equipped to examine migrants for asylum, arrest them for immigration infractions, or deport them to another country.

However, Abbott approved legislation last month that he thinks would allow Texas officials to arrest migrants on state-level charges of unlawful entrance and deport them to Mexico. The Justice Department is attempting to halt the law before it takes effect in March.

The Supreme Court earlier this week permitted Border Patrol to cut the razor wire that Texas had erected near the Rio Grande riverbanks, reversing a lower court order that had banned the agency from doing so. The razor wire in Shelby Park has remained in place because federal officials have not been permitted full access to the area.

While the Supreme Court has not decided on Texas’ seizure of Shelby Park, the controversy could be contested in federal court if the Biden administration sues the state over it.

While the White House has labeled Abbott’s methods as inhumane and futile, he has claimed that he is defending his state from a “invasion,” and his actions in Eagle Pass have been supported by other Republican governors nationwide.

According to official government figures released Friday, US officials processed more than 302,000 migrants at and between ports of entry along the southern border last month, setting a new record. Illegal border crossings have since dropped, a development that US officials ascribe to heightened Mexican immigration enforcement and a seasonal pause after the holidays.


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