Border Agents Can’t Touch Texas’ Barbed Wire: Judge (Newser)


    Border Agents Can’t Touch Texas’ Barbed Wire: Judge – By Arden Dier (Newser) / Oct 31, 2023

    Temporary order includes exemption for cases likely to result in serious injury or death

    Texas won a temporary victory over the federal government Monday as a federal judge blocked Border Patrol agents from cutting through the state’s barbed wire fence along the Rio Grande, meant to deter migrants from crossing into the US. Texas has spent $11 million to buy more than 70,000 rolls of concertina wire, which have been placed on private property along the riverbank as part of Operation Lone Star, per the New York Times. In a lawsuit filed last week, state attorney general Ken Paxton claimed federal agents were illegally destroying the fence “strategically positioned for the purpose of securing the border and stemming the flow of illegal migration,” per ABC News. He complained federal agents had cut the wire dozens of times “to admit aliens illegally entering Texas.”

    Federal officials argued the wire posed a health risk to migrants and to agents, who needed to lift or remove sections to allow migrants to be processed and, in some cases, disentangled. Over two months this summer, Department of Public Safety medics treated 133 migrants who’d been injured by the wire, including a pregnant woman who was found suffering a miscarriage, per the Houston Chronicle. In a Monday ruling, Judge Alia Moses of the Western District of Texas, an appointee of President George W. Bush, sided with Paxton, issuing a temporary restraining order blocking BP agents from removing, disassembling, or tampering with the concertina wire, per the Hill. “The plaintiff established that the balance of interests favors granting an injunction, but just barely,” she wrote.

    Moses ruled that “deterring unlawful activity, including illegal entry, is in the public interest.” However, her order includes an exception that allows agents to interfere with the wire in case of “any medical emergency that most likely results in serious bodily injury or death,” per ABC. This is not the final say on the matter. Referencing the state’s right to assist property owners in protecting their land and the federal government’s “responsibilities over national security and border security,” Moses asked the two sides to present further evidence at a Nov. 7 preliminary injunction hearing, per the Times. She’ll decide whether the restraining order should be extended at that time.



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