In a contentious decision, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Border Patrol agents are permitted to remove razor wire that Texas had installed along the U.S.-Mexico border, despite an ongoing legal dispute regarding the wire. The justices voted 5-4 in favor of an emergency appeal made by the Biden administration, which has been engaged in a growing confrontation with Texas over border issues and had expressed opposition to a previous appellate court ruling that favored the state.
The concertina wire spanning approximately 30 miles (48 kilometers) along the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass is a component of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s broader stance against the administration’s immigration enforcement. Governor Abbott has also granted authorization for the installation of floating barriers in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, as well as the arrest and detention of numerous migrants on trespassing charges by troopers. The administration has taken legal action to challenge these measures in federal court.
Recently, a federal appeals court compelled federal agents to cease cutting the concertina wire. Notably, a significant number of migrants have been crossing at Eagle Pass in recent months.
According to court documents, the administration argues that the wire obstructs Border Patrol agents from reaching migrants as they traverse the river. Furthermore, they assert that federal immigration law supersedes Texas’ efforts to curb the influx of migrants into the country.
Texas officials contend that federal agents cut the wire to facilitate the apprehension and processing of groups crossing the river unlawfully.
In the vote, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor aligned with the administration’s position. Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas sided with Texas.
No explanations were provided for the justices’ respective votes.