McALLEN, Texas (AP) — Texas sued the Biden administration on Tuesday, seeking to stop federal agents from cutting the state’s razor wire that has gashed or snagged migrants as they have attempted to enter the U.S. from Mexico at 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 construct border barriers to prevent the entry of illegal aliens,” Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, said in a news release Tuesday.
State authorities started rolling out miles (kilometers) of the concertina wire in May before the end of Title 42, a temporary emergency health authority used to turn migrants back during the pandemic. The sharp wire was deployed in areas of high traffic through the Rio Grande at the border near such locations as Brownsville and Eagle Pass, Texas.
Migrant and environmental advocates quickly raised concerns over the damaging effects of the razor wire, which were also raised internally by those charged with enforcing its use. A state trooper and medic described the use of their border tactics as “inhumane” in July when he sent an internal complaint documenting cases of lacerated and injured migrants.
The barrier is set up a few yards (meters) from the river or sometimes at the edge of it and would keep migrants in the water, sometimes for hours, waiting for U.S. Border Patrol tasked with processing them under immigration law. In some cases, federal agents have broken through the wire to gain access to entangled migrants or on the other side.
Texas alleges the practice of cutting through the wire increased recently when thousands of migrants waded through the river and into the area of Eagle Pass in late September.
“By cutting Texas’s concertina wire, the federal government has not only illegally destroyed property owned by the State of Texas; it has also disrupted the State’s border security efforts, leaving gaps in Texas’s border barriers and damaging Texas’s ability to effectively deter illegal entry into its territory,” the complaint stated.
The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment.
The razor wire is just part of Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s two-year effort of escalated measures to block migrants from crossing the state’s 1,200-mile (1,930-kilometer) border with Mexico.