Texas has again rebuffed demands from the Biden administration for it to have “full access” to the Shelby Park area of Eagle Pass amid an ongoing standoff between the federal government and the state.
The Department of Homeland Security had written to Attorney General Ken Paxton this week seeking “full access to the Shelby Park area currently obstructed by Texas” after Gov. Greg Abbott’s administration had taken control of it earlier this month.
DHS has repeatedly sought access to the area, and in response last week Texas said it will allow entry to any Border Patrol personnel responding to an emergency. In response, DHS said it wants unrestricted access during emergencies, as well as regular access to the port of entry, the boat ramp and border barrier entrances.
The letter also identified parts of the area where it claimed to have acquired real estate interests and therefore should be able to access them.
“Because the Department owns property rights to the areas depicted on the attached map, we demand that you immediately remove any and all obstructions on it, . . .” the letter said.
Paxton, in response to that letter, dismissed the legal basis for the demand. He disputes the claim that the federal government has rights over the areas claimed by the administration.
“With respect to parcels identified in your maps that are actually in the vicinity of the park, publicly available records suggest the United States does not even purport to own what your latest letter claims,” he wrote in a Friday letter.
He went on to request that the agency supply maps and deeds showing the areas it claims the U.S. government owns and how officials are blocking access to them. He also dismisses claims by the administration that it needs access to the area to patrol the border.
“But you (unsurprisingly) omit the statutory language that your agency continues publicly to disregard: Border Patrol is tasked with ‘patrolling the border to prevent the illegal entry of aliens,’” he said.
“As I said before, this office will continue to defend Texas’s efforts to protect its southern border against every effort by the Biden Administration to undermine the State’s constitutional right of self-defense. You should advise your clients to join us in those efforts by doing their job and following the law,” he said.
The letter comes as part of a multi-faceted standoff between the two sides when it comes to how to deal with the ongoing border crisis.
The Supreme Court this week sided with the administration when it granted an emergency appeal to allow agents to keep cutting border wire set up by Texas after a lower court had blocked such moves. However, Border Patrol currently has “no plans” to remove the wire unless in an emergency, a senior CBP official told Fox on Friday.
The Biden administration has also sued over the Texas law, recently signed by Abbott, that allows state and local law enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants. There has been another legal feud over the establishment of buoys by Texas in the Rio Grande.
Abbott has said Texas has a right to “self-defense” against what he says is federal inaction about a migrant “invasion.”
“[President Biden’s] actions have caused an unprecedented invasion that we must defend against,” Abbott said on Thursday.
The Biden administration has said that Texas is interfering with the federal enforcement of immigration law.
“Enforcement of immigration law is a federal responsibility,” a DHS spokesperson said this week. “Rather than helping to reduce irregular migration, the State of Texas has only made it harder for frontline personnel to do their jobs and to apply consequences under the law. We can enforce our laws and administer them safely, humanely, and in an orderly way.”
Fox News’ Griff Jenkins contributed to this report.
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