The Supreme Court has allowed U.S. Border Patrol agents to remove the razor wire used by Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott's security initiative along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The The vote was 5-4.
The justices' order is a major victory for President Joe Biden in his ongoing dispute with Abbott over border policy, which has become particularly fraught in recent days after three migrants drowned in a stretch of the Rio Grande that blocked access to state officials. , prompting the administration to further press for the High Court's intervention.
A federal appeals court last month ordered Border Patrol agents to stop removing razor wire in a small stretch of the Rio Grande while court proceedings continue, and the Justice Department earlier this month asked judges to clear it on an emergency basis. The order they made on Monday.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanagh said they would have denied the federal request.
Steve Vladek, a CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said while the order was a victory for the Biden administration, the delay in issuing it raises questions about the future.
“Whatever one thinks about current immigration policy, it shouldn't be controversial, we can't prevent states from enforcing federal law — we shouldn't be setting the stage for Democratic-led states to block the implementation of federal policies by Republican presidents,” Vladek said. “The fact that four justices would have left the lower court injunction still in place can be taken, rightly or wrongly, as a sign that some of the long-standing principles of constitutional federalism may be in flux.”
White House spokesman Angelo Fernandez Hernandez told CNN on Monday that the White House was “pleased that the Supreme Court lifted a restraining order that prevented frontline workers from performing critical federal work and interfered with their ability to respond to emergency humanitarian situations and enforce our laws.”
Abbott's spokesman, Andrew Mahaleris, said in a statement that “the absence of razor wire and other deterrent strategies encourages migrants to make unsafe and illegal crossings between ports of entry.” “The governor will continue to fight to protect Texas' assets and its constitutional authority to secure the border,” he added.
A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that the agency welcomes the high court's order.
“Enforcement of immigration law is a federal responsibility,” the spokeswoman said. “Instead of helping reduce irregular migration, the state of Texas has made it harder for frontline workers to do their jobs and apply consequences under the law. We can enforce our laws and administer them safely, humanely and orderly.
Lawyers for the Biden administration argued in the Supreme Court that the appeals court ruling “overturns” the Constitution's Supremacy Clause, which says federal laws take precedence over state laws.
“As a result of Texas' position, states across the country can use their laws to block the federal government's exercise of power,” Solicitor General Elizabeth Preloger wrote in court papers.
“If the injunction is upheld, it will prevent Border Patrol agents from carrying out their responsibilities to enforce immigration laws and protect against the risk of injury and death,” Briloger asserted. Be politically accountable.
In a follow-up filing with the high court, Prelogger said the new barriers recently erected by Texas — including new fences, gates and military Humvees — “demonstrate an escalation” of the state's efforts to curb the government's border patrol duties and “strengthen” the need for swift intervention in the matter.
He told the court that Texas violated a key part of the injunction that allows federal agents to cut wires for medical emergencies, arguing that two children and a woman drowned earlier this month and were rescued by Mexican authorities. Two other settlements on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande “underscore that Texas remains committed to its continued efforts … to prevent Border Patrol access to the border, even in emergency situations.”
The state sued last year to stop Border Patrol agents from cutting concertina wire to help migrants cross the border, saying it illegally destroyed state property and undermined security.
The 5th Circuit is currently weighing legal questions about whether the federal government has the authority to cut a line that Texas installed along the banks of the Rio Grande. Oral arguments in the case will be heard on February 7.
Texas urged the Supreme Court to reject the Biden administration's request, telling the justices in court documents that there is “no basis for this court's intervention, much less now.”
Prosecutors noted that the appeals court was speeding up its review of the case after the Biden administration filed its emergency request with the justices — a decision that undermined the need for swift action by the nation's highest court.
“In any case, cutting Texas' fence to allow thousands of people to stream into Texas has nothing to do with inspection, fear or removal,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and other attorneys for the state wrote in court documents.
“The district court's findings demonstrate that (the administration's) actions were so far removed from what Congress recognized as having nothing to do with the defendants' statutory authority,” they told the court.
The White House has repeatedly called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform to address urgent needs along the US-Mexico border. Biden admitted to reporters on Friday that the border was “not secure” and said, “Give me the money!” called the lawmakers. To fund additional resources.
In a statement Monday, Fernandez-Hernandez said the president “will continue to work to find a bipartisan agreement with Congress that includes additional resources and meaningful policy reforms.”
This story has been updated with additional details.
CNN's Donald Judd and Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.
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