Updated Jan 22, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Divided SCOTUS grants Biden administration request to cut Texas’ razor wire

Migrants try to reach the United States border to seek humanitarian asylum in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on Jan. 17. Photo: Christian Torres/Anadolu via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday granted the Biden administration's request to vacate an injunction in the Texas razor wire saga.

Why it matters: The high court sided with the Department of Homeland Security for now after state officials had constructed a wire barrier to prevent migrant crossings.

Driving the news: The justices granted the emergency appeal by a 5-4 vote, clearing the way for Border Patrol agents to remove razor wire fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito Jr., Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh dissented.

Catch up quick: The decision is the latest in a legal battle between the Biden administration and officials in the Republican-led state, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

  • Texas officials installed miles of barriers using barbed wire and buoys along the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass in response to record numbers of migrants arriving at the border.
  • The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Texas over the barriers last year.
  • Texas sued the Biden administration in December in an attempt to stop agents from removing them.

What they're saying: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the Biden administration's stance an "illegal effort to aid the foreign invasion of America."

  • "The destruction of Texas's border barriers will not help enforce the law or keep American citizens safe," Paxton said in a statement. "This fight is not over, and I look forward to defending our state's sovereignty."
  • Gov. Abbott said Monday that "This is not over" and he'll "continue to defend Texas' constitutional authority to secure the border and prevent the Biden Admin from destroying our property."

Meanwhile, a White House spokesperson told Axios: "We are glad the Supreme Court has vacated the injunction that prevented frontline personnel from performing vital federal functions and interfered with their ability to address urgent humanitarian situations and enforce our laws."

  • The spokesperson added that adequate resources and policy changes are needed to address "our broken immigration system" and called the razor wires a political stunt that "make[s] it harder and more dangerous for frontline personnel to do their jobs."

Go deeper: Texas barred border agents from responding to distress call, DHS says

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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