McALLEN, Texas (AP) — A clash between Texas and the Biden administration over immigration enforcement showed no signs of easing Wednesday as federal officials renewed demands for the state to give Border Patrol agents access to a riverfront park that is a popular corridor for migrants illegally entering the U.S.
Texas has installed rows of razor wire in the park and says more is being added after the Supreme Court cleared the way for Border Patrol agents to cut or remove the sharp metal barrier. The fencing has become one of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott‘s most visible measures to deter migrants in the border city of Eagle Pass.
Texas seized control of the park this month and began denying entry to Border Patrol agents, escalating a feud between Abbott and President Joe Biden’s administration, which the governor accuses of not doing enough to curb illegal crossings. On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security sent the state a letter demanding access again to Shelby Park, which is next to the Rio Grande.
“To our knowledge, Texas has only permitted access to Shelby Park by allowing public entry for a memorial, the media, and use of the golf course adjacent to Shelby Park, all while continuing to restrict U.S. Border Patrol’s access to the park,” the letter read.
It asked Texas to respond by Friday.
Spokespersons for Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose office had sued the Biden administration over cutting the razor wire, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
On social media, Abbott struck a defiant tone, issuing a statement that said Texas had a “constitutional right to self-defense” but did not address access to the park. Abbott is traveling in India and was not in the country when a divided Supreme Court on Monday handed down the order without comment or explicit mention about access to the park.
Lt. Chris Olivarez, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Wednesday on The Glenn Beck Program that the state was installing more of the wire barrier. He declined a request for an interview.
Texas troopers and National Guard members have kept a large presence at Shelby Park since last summer, when thousands of migrants were crossing illegally crossing from Mexico. Crossings have decreased notably since the start of January, not only in Eagle Pass but elsewhere along the U.S.-Mexico border.
But nearly two weeks into the start of the year, the state told the Eagle Pass mayor that it would be closing access to Shelby Park. Mayor Rolando Salinas said in a video published on his social media that he was not given an explanation over the timing and was not aware of when the public would have access to the popular recreation area.
Texas told the Supreme Court the park was reopened to the public days after they shut it down, but the federal government expressed skepticism in its letter. The Biden administration requested access to the park, an area underneath a port of entry and a boat ramp.