The United States Supreme Court vacated an injunction Monday that blocked federal border patrol officials from cutting or removing the razor wire installed by Texas along portions of the Rio Grande River.
The Court was split 5-4 on the ruling, with Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Neil Gorsuch, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh voting in favor of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DPS) request to vacate the injunction.
The Supreme Court’s order vacating the injunction was short and offered no explanation of the Justices’ reasoning behind the ruling.
Although the Supreme Court has weighed in on this injunction, consideration of Texas’ lawsuit against the federal DPS is still ongoing.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ full panel of judges is set to consider the merits of the case in early February.
Launched in March 2021, Operation Lone Star is an initiative backed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) intended to aid in securing the portion of the United States-Mexico border located within the state.
As part of this project, Texas law enforcement installed razor wire along portions of the border, including along the banks of the Rio Grande River, in an effort to reduce instances of illegal entry into the country.
In response to federal Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents cutting through portions of this barricade, Texas sued DPS in October of 2023, alleging that the government officials “illegally destroyed property owned by the State of Texas” and “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.”
On December 19, 2023, a Fifth Circuit judge granted Texas’ request for an injunction against DPS enjoining CBP officials from “damaging, destroying, or otherwise interfering with Texas’s [concertina wire] fence in the vicinity of Eagle Pass” as the case made its way through the legal system.
The Fifth Circuit’s injunction did, however, permit DPS officials “to cut or move the c-wire if necessary to address any medical emergency.”
The DPS went on to appeal this injunction to the Supreme Court which ultimately vacated the order earlier this week.
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, Texas Governor Greg Abbott posted on X saying that “this is not over.”
“Texas’ razor wire is an effective deterrent to the illegal crossings Biden encourages,” Gov. Abbott wrote. “I will continue to defend Texas’ constitutional authority to secure the border and prevent the Biden Admin from destroying our property.”
This is not over.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 22, 2024
Texas' razor wire is an effective deterrent to the illegal crossings Biden encourages.
I will continue to defend Texas' constitutional authority to secure the border and prevent the Biden Admin from destroying our property.https://t.co/pV7Cuq57d1
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also released a statement following the Court’s ruling.
“The Supreme Court’s temporary order allows Biden to continue his illegal effort to aid the foreign invasion of America,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The destruction of Texas’s border barriers will not help enforce the law or keep American citizens safe. This fight is not over, and I look forward to defending our state’s sovereignty.”
Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling that federal agents will be permitted to continue cutting or removing portions of the razor wire barricade, Texas officials have been undeterred in their approach to securing the portions of the southern border located within their state.
Spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety Lieutenant Chris Olivarez published a post on X stating that law enforcement will continue to pursue the same border security strategies despite the revocation of the injunction.
“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 & anti-climb barriers along the Rio Grande.” Lt. 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, & inhumane methods of permitting illegal immigrants, including children, to illegally cross a dangerous river where many have lost their lives,” said Olivarez.
“Texas is the only state using every strategy & resource to protect its sovereignty, combat criminal activity, & discourage illegal immigration,” Olivarez concluded. “Texas will continue to hold the line.”
The State of Texas, under Gov. @GregAbbott_TX’s Operation Lone Star, will maintain its current posture in deterring illegal border crossings by utilizing effective border security measures – reinforced concertina wire & anti-climb barriers along the Rio Grande. The logical… https://t.co/p6l4KluzCe— Chris Olivarez (@LtChrisOlivarez) January 23, 2024
The White House has spoken out in favor of the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the injunction, referring to Texas’ efforts on the border as “political stunts.”
“Texas’ political stunts, like placing razor wire near the border, simply make it harder and more dangerous for frontline personnel to do their jobs,” White House spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández said, according to the Associated Press.
While Texas has argued that the installation of the razor wire is beneficial for reducing illegal crossings, federal officials allege in court documents that the barrier impedes CBP agents’ ability to carry out their duties.
DPS also contended in its legal filings that state-level interventions cannot be allowed to interfere with federal agents’ ability to fulfill their obligations.
Texas has countered these arguments by suggesting in legal documents that agents’ destruction and removal of the razor wire was not done in the name of improving their ability to “apprehend” or “process” those crossing into the country outside legal ports of entry.
An en banc — or full panel — review of the lawsuit by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has been scheduled for February 7, 2024, according to the Texas attorney general.