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Texas vs the Federal Government
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Connor Chung

Feb 07, 2024

Explaining the contentious border dispute between Texas and the federal government

Last week, domestic tensions inside the United States reached a climax in the form of a border dispute between the state of Texas and the federal government. Border security, the role of federal and state governments and questions over illegal immigration lie at the heart of the dispute. 


In response to a large influx of illegal immigrants crossing the border, Texas Governor Greg Abbott decided to effectively grant his state sovereign jurisdiction over the matter, stating that the federal government was failing to enforce the law. Consequently, the state deployed its National Guard troops to establish control over a public park in Eagle Pass, which Border Patrol had been using to hold and inspect migrants. Texas also made an effort to fortify the compromised section of border by setting up razor wire in the area, effectively blocking federal agents from accessing the park.


The federal government, under the Biden administration, responded by demanding that Texas cease its blocking of Border Patrol agents from the park. However, Governor Abbott refused to back down, instead doubling down on his stance by increasing state patrol of the border.


The situation came to a head when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the federal government, allowing them to remove the razor wire that Texas had installed. However, Texas defied the court's order and continued to block federal agents from accessing the park. The Texas governor cited the influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border as an "invasion" to justify his actions in light of the supreme court’s decision, invoking the state's constitutional authority to defend and protect itself. According to Abbott, the Biden administration had "broken the compact" between the state and the federal government by failing to enforce immigration laws. The Biden administration has issued strong criticism of Texas’ defiance of federal authority. 


The situation at the border remains tense, with Abbott staking his bet on Joe Biden’s potential unwillingness to federalize Texas National Guard troops during an election year, a sizeable political blunder in the eyes of many. In the meantime, Texas has seemingly asserted its authority on the issue, establishing a new precedent for federal-state relations in the process.

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