The ongoing crisis at the U.S. southern border has reached a new level of tension as the Texas National Guard seizes control of a park and blocks Border Patrol from entering the area. This move, part of Governor Greg Abbott's emergency declaration to stop the surge of illegal immigration into Texas, is likely to escalate the already strained relationship between the state government and the federal government.
The park at the center of the controversy is Shelby Park, located in the city of Eagle Pass, Texas. According to Eagle Pass Mayor Rolando Salinas, the decision to take control of the park was not made by the city and he was only made aware of it after the fact. He also stated that Border Patrol is now being prevented from entering the park as a result.
The Texas Military Department released a statement explaining that they have maintained a presence in the park since 2021, including setting up security points and temporary barriers. The current purpose of these measures, they say, is to prepare for future surges of illegal immigration and to restrict access to organizations that facilitate illegal border crossings in the area.
According to the Border Patrol union, agents are being blocked from entering the park by Texas soldiers. However, they are praising Governor Abbott for taking action and believe that his actions will actually enhance Border Patrol operations. Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, called Abbott's move a "force multiplier" that will allow agents to deploy to areas with high numbers of "gotaways" (individuals who cross the border undetected).
— Adam Shaw (@AdamShawNY) January 12, 2024
Sources within Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have also confirmed that Border Patrol is being blocked from two areas of operation in Eagle Pass. They stated that agents have pulled resources from these areas in order to avoid any potential confrontation with the Texas National Guard. However, they also emphasized that blocking Border Patrol from doing their job has no operational or law enforcement benefit and only adds extra steps to the process once the individuals are processed by Texas.
The conflict between the state of Texas and the federal government over how to handle the record-setting crisis at the southern border has been ongoing. Governor Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in 2021 to surge resources and law enforcement to the border. This included setting up a buoy border barrier in the Rio Grande River, which was met with a lawsuit from the federal government.
In addition, the Biden administration has sued Texas over a recently signed anti-illegal immigration law that allows state and local law enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants. The administration argues that this law interferes with their authority and hinders their operations, as well as damaging relations with foreign governments. On the other hand, Texas has sued the administration for cutting and destroying razor wire that was set up by the state to stop illegal crossings.
As caravans of migrants are moving through Mexico toward the U.S. border, we are making clear that Texas will be a tough place to cross. https://t.co/G4LJfKfiK3
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 12, 2024
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has criticized Governor Abbott's "political stunts" and stated that they are not safe for Texas communities or for the CBP agents on the ground. However, the governor's office has dismissed these criticisms and instead pointed the finger at the Biden administration's "open border policies." They have also accused the administration of allowing Mexican cartels to smuggle people into the country.
Despite pushback from the federal government, Governor Abbott has shown no signs of backing down. His office has stated that Texas will continue to deploy National Guard soldiers and additional barriers to respond to the ongoing border crisis. They have also implemented a strategy of busing migrants to "sanctuary" cities in an effort to relieve overwhelmed border communities, sending over 100,000 migrants to these cities.
The latest move in Shelby Park has drawn immediate support from Texas conservative Representative Chip Roy, who stated that the governor has his full support to secure the state's border. This ongoing battle between Texas and the federal government highlights the complex and contentious issues surrounding illegal immigration in the United States and raises questions about where the responsibility lies for addressing the crisis.