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Texas refuses to allow Homeland Security unrestricted access at key border zone

By Mandy Donalds
|
January 28, 2024

The standoff between state and federal authorities at the Texas border continues as Texas maintains its position against the Biden administration's demands for unrestricted access to the Shelby Park area of Eagle Pass.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), having written to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, seeks unobstructed access to this region, of Gov. Greg Abbott's administration has recently taken control, as Fox News reported.

Despite multiple requests from DHS, Texas has only agreed to grant entry to Border Patrol personnel in emergencies.

Federal Claims of Property Rights

In the letter, DHS identified specific parts of Shelby Park where it claimed to have real estate interests, thus warranting unimpeded access.

The letter explicitly demands the removal of any obstructions in these areas, citing ownership rights.

However, this claim is contested by Paxton, who challenges the legal grounds of the federal government's assertion of control over the disputed lands.

Paxton's Firm Stance

Paxton, responding to DHS's demands, questioned the validity of the federal government's claim to ownership of the lands near the park.

In a letter sent on Friday, he demanded that DHS provide concrete evidence, such as maps and deeds, to support their claims of ownership.

Moreover, Paxton dismissed the administration's argument that access to the area is crucial for border patrol, accusing the agency of neglecting its primary duty of preventing illegal entry of aliens.

He reiterates Texas' commitment to defending its border and urges the federal government to adhere to the law and join their efforts.

The Wider Context of the Standoff

This ongoing conflict is part of a broader dispute over border management strategies.

The Supreme Court this week ruled in favor of the Biden administration, allowing federal agents to continue modifying border infrastructure. This decision came after a lower court had restricted such actions.

Nonetheless, senior officials from the Customs and Border Protection have indicated no immediate plans to alter the current setup, except in emergencies.

Legal Battles and State Actions

The Biden administration has also initiated legal actions against Texas over a new law signed by Abbott.

This law empowers state and local law enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants, a move that the federal government claims interferes with its immigration enforcement responsibilities. Another legal contention arises from Texas' decision to place buoys in the Rio Grande.

Abbott has been vocal about Texas's right to self-defense in the face of what he describes as a migrant "invasion" and federal inaction.

He stated, "[President Biden's] actions have caused an unprecedented invasion that we must defend against."

In contrast, DHS argues that Texas' actions complicate federal efforts to enforce immigration laws effectively and safely.

A spokesperson for DHS emphasized that immigration law enforcement is a federal responsibility and criticized Texas for hindering the work of frontline personnel.