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Biden administration asks Supreme Court to let Border Patrol remove razor wire on US-Mexico border

Originally Published: 02 JAN 24 15:35 ET

Updated: 02 JAN 24 16:57 ET

By Hannah Rabinowitz, CNN

(CNN) — The Biden administration has asked the Supreme Court to allow the US Border Patrol to remove razor wire at the US-Mexico border – another escalation in the dispute between President Joe Biden and Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott over border policy.

The dispute is over whether the Border Patrol has the legal authority to cut concertina wire that Texas had installed on the banks of the Rio Grande. The state sued last year to stop the wire cutting, saying it illegally destroys state property and undermines security in order to assist migrants in crossing the border.

A federal appeals court last month ordered Border Patrol agents to stop the practice while court proceedings play out, and the Justice Department on Tuesday filed an emergency application, asking the Supreme Court to overturn that decision.

“Federal law unambiguously grants Border Patrol agents the authority, without a warrant, to access private land within 25 miles of the international border,” the department wrote in its appeal to the high court.

Texas and the federal government have repeatedly sparred over the US-Mexico border, and the issue has become a focal point for the Republican Party as the country enters a heated election season. Republicans have slammed the Biden administration for its handling of a surge of migrants at the border.

US cities far from the southern border have said they are reaching a breaking point trying to manage the influx of migrants – in part because of Texas’ practice of busing migrants to other states.

In court documents, the Biden administration has said that agents cut the razor wire to provide medical assistance to migrants who need it, or to apprehend migrants who have already crossed into US territory.

As part of their arguments to the justices, the DOJ wrote that the appeals court ruling has “serious on-the-ground consequences that warrant this Court’s intervention.”

“Like other law-enforcement officers, Border Patrol agents operating under difficult circumstances at the border must make context-dependent, sometimes split-second decisions about how to enforce federal immigration laws while maintaining public safety,” they wrote. “But the injunction prohibits agents from passing through or moving physical obstacles erected by the State that prevent access to the very border they are charged with patrolling and the individuals they are charged with apprehending and inspecting.”

The appeals court ruling also “removes a key form of officer discretion to prevent the development of deadly situations,” the DOJ wrote, including “mitigating the serious risks of drowning and death from hypothermia or heat exposure.”

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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Article Topic Follows: On the Border

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