The Texas National Guard has seized control of a park at the U.S. southern border and is now blocking Border Patrol from entering the area – part of an effort to stop the surge of illegal immigration into Texas and a move likely to significantly increase tensions between Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the federal government.
The state government has taken control of Shelby Park in the city of Eagle Pass, Texas, which has been at the center of the migrant crisis that has engulfed the U.S. border. Authorities have now set up razor wire and fences to block off the area.
Eagle Pass Mayor Rolando Salinas said he was informed that the decision was made as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency declaration. Salinas told reporters it was not something the city had requested, and he said his understanding is that Border Patrol was now not in the area as a result.
In a statement, the Texas Military Dept. said it has maintained a presence in the park since 2021, including with security points and temporary barriers.
“The current posture is to prepare for future illegal immigrant surges and to restrict access to organizations that perpetuate illegal immigrant crossings in the park and greater Eagle Pass area,” it said.
The Border Patrol union confirmed to Fox News that agents were being blocked from entering by Texas soldiers, and praised Abbott for taking matters into his own hands.
“Governor Abbott is not harming Border Patrol operations, he is enhancing them,” National Border Patrol Council Brandon Judd said in a statement. “His seizing control of Shelby Park allows our agents to deploy to troubled spots that experience high numbers of gotaways. Governor Abbott’s actions should be seen as a force multiplier.”
The dramatic move marks the latest escalation in a feud between the state of Texas and the federal government over how to handle the record-setting crisis, which has left both Texas and cities throughout the country overwhelmed.
Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in 2021 to surge resources and law enforcement to the border. As part of that operation, he set up a buoy border barrier in the Rio Grande River, which sparked a lawsuit from the federal government that could soon be before the Supreme Court.
Separately, 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, which the administration says interferes with the federal government’s authority and frustrates the U.S. immigration operations and proceedings, and hurts relations with foreign governments.
Texas, meanwhile, has sued the administration for cutting and destroying razor wire set up by Texas to stop illegal crossings. That wire has been set up in areas very near to Shelby Park. The lawsuit is ongoing and the administration is currently blocked from cutting the wire.
“We believe that Gov. Abbott’s policies and political stunts are not safe, not safe for Texas communities and our CBP, our law enforcement on the ground who are trying to do their work. It puts them in harm’s way, and they dehumanize and demonize immigrants. That’s what his political stunts do,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last month.
Abbott’s office has dismissed the criticism leveled at it by the federal government, and has instead accused the administration of fueling the crisis with “open border policies.”
“Texas is holding the line at our southern border with miles of additional razor wire and anti-climb barriers to deter and repel the record-high levels of illegal immigration invited by President Biden’s reckless open border policies. Instead of enforcing federal immigration laws, the Biden Administration allows unfettered access for Mexican cartels to smuggle people into our country,” Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze said on Thursday.
“Texas will continue to deploy Texas National Guard soldiers, DPS troopers, and more barriers, utilizing every tool and strategy to respond to President Biden’s ongoing border crisis.”
Texas has also upset “sanctuary” cities across the country with a pattern of busing migrants to those cities in an effort to relieve overwhelmed border communities. Abbott announced this week that he has now sent over 100,000 migrants to those cities.
Abbott’s latest move in Shelby Park drew immediate support from some Texas conservatives.
“The Governor has my full support to go as far as is necessary (from a legal perspective) to secure Texas’ border,” Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano and Casey Stegall contributed to this report.
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