WASHINGTON (AP) — A divided Supreme Court on Monday allowed Border Patrol agents to cut razor wire that Texas installed on the U.S.-Mexico border, while a lawsuit over the wire continues.
The justices, by a 5-4 vote, granted an emergency appeal from the Biden administration, which has been in an escalating standoff at the border with Texas and had objected to an appellate ruling in favor of the state.
The concertina wire along roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) of the Rio Grande near the border city of Eagle Pass is part of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott‘s broader fight with the administration over immigration enforcement.
Abbott also has authorized installing floating barriers in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass and allowed troopers to arrest and jail thousands of migrants on trespassing charges. The administration also is challenging those actions in federal court.
A federal appeals court last month forced federal agents to stop cutting the concertina wire. Large numbers of migrants have crossed at Eagle Pass in recent months.
In court papers, the administration said the wire impedes Border Patrol agents from reaching migrants as they cross the river and that, in any case, federal immigration law trumps Texas’ own efforts to stem the flow of migrants into the country.
Texas officials have argued that federal agents cut the wire to help groups crossing illegally through the river before taking them in for processing.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor sided with the administration. Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas voted with Texas.
No one provided any explantion for their vote.