Biden Urged to Take ‘Control of the Texas National Guard’ as State Defies Supreme Court

Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat, accused Gov. Greg Abbott of “using the Texas National Guard to obstruct and create chaos at the border.”

By Olivia Rosane. Published 1-24-2024 by Common Dreams

Members of the Texas National Guard patrol the U.S. border with razor wire. (Photo: Greg Abbott/X)

Texas officials are defying a Monday Supreme Court ruling prohibiting them from blocking the federal government from removing razor wire installed by the state along the U.S. border with Mexico, prompting calls for the Biden administration to respond.

The Texas National Guard is barring the federal government from entering an area in Eagle Pass where it has installed the wire, as CBS’ Camilo Montoya-Galvez reported Tuesday.

“The Texas National Guard continues to hold the line in Eagle Pass,” Gov. Greg Abbott posted on social media on Tuesday. “Texas will not back down from our efforts to secure the border in Biden’s absence.”

In response, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) said that Abbott was “using the Texas National Guard to obstruct and create chaos at the border.”

“If Abbott is defying yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling, the president of the U.S. needs to establish sole federal control of the Texas National Guard now,” Castro wrote on social media.

Fellow Texas Democrat Greg Casar also criticized Abbott, posting on Tuesday that his “latest stunt after yesterday’s Supreme Court order is malicious, unconstitutional, and against Texas values.”

“Our country needs Congress to create a safer, humane, and more orderly immigration system—not razor wire to cut innocent people or laws that attack families,” Casar said.

Montoya-Galvez shared video footage on social media of the Texas National Guard installing more razor wire at Eagle Pass’ Shelby Park, which he described as “an area the Texas National Guard has heavily fortified with razor and concertina wire, fencing, armored vehicles, and soldiers.”

The area has emerged as a site of conflict between Texas and the U.S. government over control of the border. Texas sued the federal government in 2023 for cutting razor wire it had put up, arguing that this destroyed state property and harmed Texas’ security, as CNN explained. In December, an appeals court ruled that federal border agents could not continue to cut wire while the court case proceeded, and the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to overturn that decision, prompting Monday’s ruling.

The stakes of the stand-off were made tragically clear this month when a woman and two children drowned along the border after members of the Texas National Guard blocked U.S. Border Patrol agents from offering assistance.

On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security wrote to Texas demanding “full access” to the border by January 26, according to CNN. While Texas claims Shelby Park is open to the public, the federal government said it has not been able to enter.

A law enforcement source told CNN that U.S. Customs and Border Protection now had permission to remove the wire despite the ongoing court case.

“This goes far beyond ‘reserving the right,'” the source said. “The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered it.”

Despite this, Texas officials have remained adamant about controlling the border themselves.

“The Texas Military Department continues to hold the line in Shelby Park to deter and prevent unlawful entry into the state of Texas,” the department, which includes the state’s national guard, wrote in a statement Tuesday. “We remain resolute in our actions to secure our border, preserve the rule of law, and protect the sovereignty of our state.”

Department of Public Safety spokesperson Lieutenant Chris Olivarez also wrote on social media on Monday that Texas would “continue to hold the line.”

“The state of Texas, under Gov. Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, will maintain its current posture in deterring illegal border crossings by utilizing effective border security measures—reinforced concertina wire and anti-climb barriers along the Rio Grande,” Olivarez wrote.

“The logical concern should be why the federal government continues to hinder Texas’ ability to protect its border, all while allowing for the exploitation, dangerous, and inhumane methods of permitting illegal immigrants, including children, to illegally cross a dangerous river where many have lost their lives,” Olivarez continued. “Texas is the only state using every strategy and resource to protect its sovereignty, combat criminal activity, and discourage illegal immigration.”

Republican lawmakers have also backed the state’s position.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) called the Supreme Court decision “unconscionable” on social media and argued that Texas should ignore it, both in his post and in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday.

“If someone’s breaking into your house, and the court says, ‘Oh, sorry. You can’t defend yourself.’ What do you tell the court?” Roy said. “You tell the court to go to hell, you defend yourself, and then figure it out later.”

Rep. Mike Collins (R-Ga.) introduced the Restricting Administration Zealots from Obliging Raiders (RAZOR) Act on Wednesday that would prohibit the federal government from removing or tampering with any state border barriers.

“With the Supreme Court siding with the America Last policies of the Biden administration, Congress must stand with Governor Greg Abbott as he fights for the sovereignty of his state and our nation,” Collins said.

Meanwhile, journalists criticized the state of Texas for disregarding federal law.

“Republicans are defying the Supreme Court. Because they don’t believe in our democracy anymore. They are dangerous and must be defeated,” former Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times editor Mark Jacob wrote on social media.

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch called for federal action.

“It’s time for Biden to federalize the Texas National Guard and maybe send in the 101st Airborne like Little Rock,” Bunch wrote on social media. “This nonsense needs to stop.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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