Judge Blocks Feds from Cutting Texas Concertina Wire along Rio Grande River

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(Bethany Blankley, The Center Square) Within one week of Texas suing the Biden administration over Border Patrol agents cutting concertina wire barriers on Texas soil, a federal judge granted Texas’s request and issued a temporary restraining order, blocking the federal government from cutting the fencing.

In response to the ruling, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement on social media saying the judge ordering the Biden administration to stop cutting razor wire along the Texas–Mexico border was “another win for Texas and our historic border mission. [President Joe] Biden created this crisis and has tried to block us at every turn. Attorney General [Ken] Paxton and I are pushing back.”

According to the 11-page ruling, “the temporary restraining order shall last until it expires on November 13, 2023, at 9:30 a.m., unless a further order of this Court extends the time.”

Texas and the Texas Public Policy Foundation sued the Biden administration Oct. 24 in U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas Del Rio Division.

However, “In response to our lawsuit,” the Department of Homeland Security “has doubled down using a forklift tractor to dismantle the Texas razor wire barrier allowing 310 people to enter illegally,” TPPF General Counsel Robert Henneke said in a social media post, including a picture of a federal agent using a forklift to remove the wire.

In response, on Friday, Texas and TPPF filed an immediate Temporary Restraining Order motion seeking emergency relief from the court after “federal agents escalated their destruction of Texas’s barrier” and the federal government “renewed [its] effort to destroy Texas’s barrier and assist aliens’ entry into the country … just days after Texas filed its lawsuit.”

By Monday morning, U.S. District Judge Alia Moses granted their request and issued a temporary restraining order to last two weeks.

Moses defined “property” for the purpose of the order as “concertina wire that the Plaintiff installed at the United States–Mexico border in Eagle Pass, Texas prior to this order.”

The order states the Biden administration is “enjoined from: (1) removing the property from its present location for any reason other than to provide or obtain emergency medical aid, as noted above; (2) concealing the property in any way; (3) offering the property for sale, rent, or use to any person, business, or entity; (4) selling or otherwise transferring the property in whole or in part; (5) encumbering the property in any way; (6) scrapping the property; (7) disposing of the property in any way; (8) disassembling, degrading, tampering with, or transforming the property in any way for any reason other than to provide or obtain emergency medical as noted in this order; and (9) failing to take all steps necessary to protect the property against damage or loss of any kind.”

Texas and TPPF sued the Biden administration after Eagle Pass officials declared a state of emergency in response to thousands of foreign nationals illegally entering Texas from Mexico in a few days, creating a humanitarian and public health and safety crisis. In response, Abbott surged Operation Lone Star border security resources to block illegal entry, including expanding installation of concertina wire.

The Biden administration has ordered Border Patrol agents to cut Texas’s concertina wire along the Rio Grande River. In the Eagle Pass area, they first cut Texas’s wire on Sept. 20.

Since then, “federal agents have developed and implemented a policy, pattern, or practice of destroying Texas’s concertina wire to encourage and assist thousands of aliens to illegally cross the Rio Grande and enter Texas,” Texas’ lawsuit alleges.

Border Patrol agents also “attach ropes or cables from the back of pickup trucks to ease aliens’ ability to illegally climb up the riverbank into Texas, … regularly cut new openings in the wire fence, sometimes immediately after Texas officers have placed new wire to plug up gaps in fencing barriers.

“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 Biden administration has sued Texas over its marine barriers and is prepared to challenge Texas on that case and this one all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Moses scheduled a preliminary injunction hearing for Nov. 7, 2023. The hearing will address “the intersection of: the private property rights of the persons consenting to the placement of the concertina wire on their land, the Plaintiff’s right to assist private property owners and avoid costs to the Plaintiff; and the Defendants’ responsibilities over national security and border security, and its powers to effectuate its duties, up to and including the destruction of private or state property.”

This is the third OLS-related lawsuit filed in the last couple of months. The first two were filed against Texas after Abbott ordered the installation of marine barriers in the Rio Grande River in Eagle Pass.

Texas National Guardsmen and women have also installed thousands of miles of concertina wire and large shipping containers along the riverbank in Eagle Pass, El Paso, Brownsville and other heavily trafficked areas.

In other parts of the border, Texas is continuing to build its first border wall. The Texas legislature just passed a bill authorizing allocating another $1.5 billion to fund it and other border barrier construction.

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