Texas Department of Public Safety guards an entrance to Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, Texas. (Sam Owens)

The Texas National Guard has erected new barriers along part of the southern border with Mexico, leading to the blockage of U.S. Border Patrol agents’ access. The federal government, in a legal filing to the Supreme Court on Friday, has raised concerns about this, escalating the conflict between the Republican-led state government and the Democratic administration of President Joe Biden on migration.

U.S. Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar has asked the justices to order Texas to allow access to immigration authorities to a portion of the border in the city of Eagle Pass.

The Biden administration’s lawyers have pointed out that “Texas’s activities have altered the situation along the relevant stretch of the Rio Grande.” They argue that the additional barriers in and around Eagle Pass “further restrict the Border Patrol’s ability to reach the river in particular areas.”

The Supreme Court filing comes after the administration earlier this month asked judges to temporarily allow Border Patrol agents to cut or remove the controversial barbed wire fences that Texas authorities placed along part of the border to deter illegal border crossings. The document includes images illustrating how the state’s National Guard has installed barriers, concertina wire, and positioned vehicles to restrict access.

Tragedy in the Rio Grande

Congressman Henry Cuellar has blamed Texas authorities for a “tragedy” in which two minors and a woman drowned while attempting to cross the Rio Grande at the Mexico-U.S. border. The Democrat has indicated that the three bodies were recovered early Saturday by Mexican authorities.

“This is a tragedy, and the state (Texas) bears responsibility,” Cuellar wrote on X’s Twitter account. According to the congressman, the Border Patrol learned Friday night that six migrants were in danger while trying to cross the Rio Grande (known as the Rio Bravo in Mexico) in Shelby Park, in the town of Eagle Pass. The congressman has noted that this federal immigration authority tried “unsuccessfully” to communicate by phone with various Texas agencies, including the Military Department, the National Guard, and the Department of Public Safety (DPS), to report the emergency.

In this area, where Eagle Pass is separated from Piedras Negras, in the Mexican state of Coahuila, by the Rio Grande, thousands of people have attempted to cross into U.S. territory in the last month, most with the intention of seeking asylum.

A National Battle on Migration

This small city, with only 28,000 inhabitants, has been at the center of an increasingly confrontational dispute between the Texas governor and the federal government over border management. In the latest decision, an appeals court ordered the Border Patrol in December to cut the concertina wire installed by Texas on the border while issuing a ruling. In response, the Biden administration appealed the case to the Supreme Court, asking it to intervene.

Texas’s move comes as the Republican governor has bused around 100,000 migrants from the state to Democratic cities across the country, criticizing the Biden administration for the record number of migrant crossings in recent years.

In a statement, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, indicated that he has sent 101,000 foreigners on state-funded buses to immigrant sanctuary cities such as New York and Chicago.

Abbott began sending foreigners to these destinations since April 2022 as part of his strategy against President Joe Biden’s administration, accusing it of having an open-border policy. New York has received the most asylum seekers so far, with 37,100 sent by buses from the Texas border.

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