A federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked the Biden administration from removing razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border that was placed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s administration to stop illegal migrants from entering the country.
The U.S. Border Patrol has argued it sometimes needs to cut the wire to save lives when migrants are at risk of dehydration or drowning. In Eagle Pass, Texas, agents began regularly cutting through layers of razor wire in September as the sector became the epicenter of a migrant surge.
Texas sued to stop the Border Patrol agents from cutting the wire, and U.S. District Court Judge Alia Moses of the Western District of Texas ruled on Monday that the wire is the “property” of Texas.
The restraining order to stop wire cutting is temporary and will only be in place until Nov. 13 so that both sides can present arguments in court.
In her opinion, Moses said she will need to consider the property rights of people consenting to have wire placed on their land, Texas’s right to assist those property owners and the Biden administration’s “responsibilities over national security and border security, and its powers to effectuate its duties, up to and including the destruction of private or state property.”
During the temporary order, Border Patrol will be prohibited from removing the wire “for any reason other than to provide or obtain emergency medical aid.”
In July, a whistleblower within the Texas government said state agents were told to push migrant children into the Rio Grande and deny water to migrants who were clearly distressed and dehydrated.
Abbott’s administration has repeatedly butted heads with the Biden administration over measures the state has taken to block migrants from crossing. This summer, Abbott, a Republican, floated border buoys in the Rio Grande, which the Biden administration argued posed a significant threat to the lives of migrants and ran afoul of international treaties regarding rivers shared by the U.S. and Mexico.
Another judge in Texas ruled in September that the buoys be removed.
Julia Ainsley is homeland security correspondent for NBC News and covers the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department for the NBC News Investigative Unit.