Supreme Court Lets Border Patrol Cut Razor Wire Texas Installed to Stop Migrants

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court granted the Biden administration’s emergency request to reinstate federal authority over the U.S.-Mexican border in Texas, setting aside a lower-court order that blocked the U.S. Border Patrol from removing concertina wire Texas officers installed to deter migrants from crossing a 29-mile stretch of the Rio Grande.

The court divided 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett joining liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson in the majority. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh sided with Texas.

The court’s action restores the Border Patrol’s authority while the protracted dispute between the Biden administration and the Republican government of Texas plays out in the lower courts. As is typical in emergency matters, the court’s summary order included no reasoning from either the majority or minority of the justices.

The White House welcomed the court’s action. “Texas’ political stunts, like placing razor wire near the border, simply make it harder and more dangerous for frontline personnel to do their jobs,” said assistant press secretary Angelo Fernández Hernández.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, in a post on X, called the wire an “effective deterrent” to illegal crossings. “I will continue to defend Texas’ constitutional authority to secure the border,” he said.

Texas, contending that Washington has failed to control the border, has taken aggressive steps to deter illegal migration, fueling an increasing conflict between the state and federal governments. State troopers and Texas National Guardsmen laid miles of razor wire under the state’s Operation Lone Star border-security effort. Border Patrol agents have, at times, cut through the wire to make arrests or rescue migrants from drowning.

The operation has spent or allocated more than $11 billion since 2021 to little effect, as Texas’ Republican leaders, Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, challenge the federal government’s authority over international borders.

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