Texas sued the Biden administration on Tuesday, seeking to block federal agents from cutting the state's razor wire that has injured or trapped migrants as they tried to enter the US from Mexico on the Rio Grande.
In the lawsuit filed in federal court in Del Rio, Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton accuses the Biden administration of “undermining” the state's border security efforts.
“Texas has the sovereign right to build barriers at the border to prevent the entry of illegal aliens,” Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, said in a news release Tuesday.
State authorities began distributing miles (kilometers) of the concertina wire in May ahead of the end of Title 42, a temporary emergency health authority used to return immigrants during the pandemic. The barbed wire was deployed in high-traffic areas across the Rio Grande on the border near places like Brownsville and Eagle Pass, Texas.
Immigrant and environmental advocates quickly raised concerns about the harmful effects of razor wire, which were also voiced internally by those responsible for enforcing its use. A state trooper and medic described the use of tactics at their border as “inhumane” in July when he sent an internal complaint documenting cases of wounded and injured migrants.
The dam is placed a few feet from the river, or sometimes at its edge, and would hold immigrants in the water, sometimes for hours, waiting for the U.S. Border Patrol, which is tasked with processing them under immigration law. In some cases, federal agents have broken the wire to gain access to involved immigrants or the other side.
Texas claims the practice of wire-cutting increased recently when thousands of migrants passed through the river and into the Eagle Pass area in late September.
“In cutting the Texas concertina wire, the federal government not only illegally destroyed property belonging to the State of Texas. has also disrupted the State's border security efforts, leaving gaps at the Texas border and harming Texas' ability to effectively deter illegal entry into its territory,” the complaint said.
The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment.
The razor blade is just part of a two-year effort by Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to escalate measures to stop migrants from crossing the state's 1,200-mile (1,930-kilometer) border with Mexico.