The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that federal officials can cut razor wire installed by Texas along the U.S.-Mexico border as an ongoing lawsuit over the wire continues.

The court’s 5-4 decision came in response to an emergency appeal filed by the Biden administration, according to The Associated Press.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were named in the Supreme Court order as the four justices who voted to keep the razor wire in place.

Migrants are taken into custody by officials at the Texas-Mexico border, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas.
Migrants are taken into custody by officials at the Texas-Mexico border, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas. | Eric Gay, Associated Press

Lawsuit over razor wire

The ongoing lawsuit between the Biden administration and Texas officials centers on the state’s efforts to stop illegal crossings from Mexico into the United States.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has authorized a number of measures in recent months aimed at tackling illegal immigration, including the installation of the razor wire.

The wire covers about 30 miles of land along the Rio Grande River “near the border city of Eagle Pass,” according to The Associated Press.

The Biden administration has opposed many of Abbott’s immigration policies due, in part, to concerns about them interfering with the work of the Border Patrol. Texas ultimately sued to block federal interference.

Texas argues that it has a right to protect its southern border, while federal officials say that federal authority over immigration issues supersedes state authority.

In October, a federal court issued a limit ruling in favor of Texas, but stopped short of blocking Border Patrol agents from interfering with the state’s security measures, including the wire, The Washington Post reported.

The state appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which granted Texas’ request for “a temporary order prohibiting Border Patrol agents from cutting, damaging or moving the barriers,” the article said.

The Biden administration then asked the Supreme Court to intervene and on Monday it did. The justices overruled the 5th Circuit’s decision, restoring Border Patrol agents’ ability to cut or otherwise tear down barriers put in place by Texas.

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What happens next?

Monday’s decision was on the temporary order from the 5th Circuit, not the case as a whole. The case is still working its way through the lower courts and could eventually be fully briefed and argued in front of the Supreme Court.

As the lawsuit plays out, Texas and the country as a whole continue to look for elusive solutions to illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“U.S. agents recorded nearly 250,000 illegal crossings along the southern border in December, the highest one-month total ever,” The Washington Post reported.