Texas and Federal Authorities Clash Over Migrant Crisis at US-Mexico Border

Eagle Pass, Texas becomes the battleground in a jurisdictional dispute between Texas and federal authorities over the handling of the migrant crisis.

The border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, has become the epicenter of a heated feud between Texas and federal authorities over how to address the ongoing migrant crisis and who has jurisdiction over the US-Mexico border. The conflict reached a boiling point on January 10, when Texas authorities effectively blocked US Border Patrol agents from accessing a 2.5-mile area in Eagle Pass, which had experienced a surge in migrant crossings. This area includes Shelby Park, a city park on the Rio Grande that is now fenced off with gates and razor wire, impeding the Border Patrol’s access. The dispute took a tragic turn on January 12, when two children and a mother drowned in a nearby part of the Rio Grande. Now, both Texas and federal officials are pointing fingers at each other, accusing one another of contributing to the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.

Escalation of the Dispute

On January 10, the Texas National Guard prevented the Border Patrol from installing mobile surveillance equipment inside Shelby Park, effectively denying the Border Patrol access to several miles of the border. Texas authorities also began erecting razor wire, fencing, and gates to restrict access to Shelby Park, an adjoining golf course, and an area under the port of entry bridge that Border Patrol agents had been using as a waiting area for migrants.

Tragedy Strikes

On the evening of January 12, Mexico’s National Institute of Migration learned of the drowning deaths of two children and a woman in the area of the Shelby Park boat ramp. A Border Patrol supervisor from the Eagle Pass station was informed of the drownings, along with two other migrants in distress on the US side of the Rio Grande near the Shelby Park boat ramp. However, when the Border Patrol supervisor arrived at the closed gate of Shelby Park, Texas National Guard members refused to let them in or provide access to the park. The Texas National Guard claimed they had been ordered not to allow Border Patrol access to Shelby Park, even in emergency situations.

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Accusations and Legal Filings

The drownings and subsequent rescue of two other migrants on the US side of the Rio Grande prompted the Biden administration to submit a filing to the Supreme Court, accusing Texas of blocking Border Patrol’s access to the border, even in emergency circumstances. The filing emphasized that Border Patrol could have taken steps to fulfill its responsibilities and assist Mexican authorities in the rescue mission if they had access to the area. The Biden administration urged the Supreme Court to intervene.

Deadlines and Arrests

On January 17, the US Department of Homeland Security set a deadline for Texas to end its blockade of Eagle Pass and allow federal agents to resume operations in the area. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office, however, refused to comply, stating that “Texas will not surrender.” Texas authorities also began arresting migrants at Shelby Park on charges of criminal trespassing, marking the state’s first arrests of migrants since taking control of the area.

Supreme Court Ruling and Continued Resistance

On January 22, the Supreme Court voted in favor of allowing Border Patrol agents to remove the razor wire installed by Texas. The Department of Homeland Security welcomed the ruling, emphasizing that enforcement of immigration law is a federal responsibility. However, Texas Governor Greg Abbott vowed to continue defending the state’s constitutional authority to secure the border and prevent the destruction of Texas property.

Ongoing Tensions and Federal Demands

On January 23, the Department of Homeland Security sent a letter to Texas’ attorney general, reiterating the federal government’s demand for full access to the disputed areas in Eagle Pass. Citing the Supreme Court’s ruling on the razor wire, the letter argued that the federal government had the legal right to access the area and condemned property rights essential for border control.

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Installations and Future Plans

On January 24, members of the Texas National Guard were seen installing more anti-climb fencing and razor wire in the Shelby Park area, further restricting access for both migrants and Border Patrol agents. While the federal government currently has no immediate plans for a massive removal of the razor wire, it will cut or remove it as needed to enforce immigration laws and respond to medical emergencies.


The clash between Texas and federal authorities over the handling of the migrant crisis at the US-Mexico border continues to escalate in Eagle Pass. The tragic drowning of two children and a mother has further fueled the accusations and finger-pointing between the two sides. As the legal battle unfolds, the fate of the disputed area and the resolution of the jurisdictional dispute remain uncertain. The ongoing tensions highlight the complex and contentious nature of border control and the challenges faced in managing the influx of migrants.