Wyoming Delegation Sides With Texas In Standoff With Federal Government

All three members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation say they side with Texas in its standoff with the Biden administration over border security. They say the federal government has failed its job and Texas has every right to secure its border.

Clair McFarland

January 24, 20247 min read

Members of the Texas National Guard watch over a section of the U.S. border with Mexico.
Members of the Texas National Guard watch over a section of the U.S. border with Mexico. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

To earn permission to cut down razor wire Texas raised along the Mexican border, the Biden administration told the U.S. Supreme Court that federal agents must access the border to patrol it and do their jobs.  

Wyoming’s Congressional delegates told Cowboy State Daily that’s nonsense, and that Biden’s border patrol has not been doing its job.  

“The Biden administration wants to open the floodgates for cartels, drug dealers, gangs and terror suspects,” Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming’s senior Republican delegate to the U.S. Senate, told Cowboy State Daily in a Wednesday email.  

Barrasso took it a step further, saying it’s Texas, not the federal agents, that is defending the southern border., and that it has “every right” to do so.

Wyoming Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis said the border crisis “could be ended tomorrow if President Biden enforced existing laws on the books, finished the border wall and brought back highly effective Trump-era policies such as Remain in Mexico.”  

She said the Biden administration has chosen the “open border” and “is shamefully choosing to put America last.”  

Texas, meanwhile, is doubling down by raising even more razor wire and sending its state soldiers to police the border.  

A Little Constitutional Law 

U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar cited the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which makes the Constitution and federal laws crafted pursuant to it the “supreme law of the land.” 

She said the lower court’s order — now vacated — that prevented Border Patrol agents from cutting the razor wire inverted the Supremacy Clause “by requiring federal law to yield to Texas law.  

Wyoming’s lone delegate to the U.S. House, Republican Rep. Harriet Hageman, countered, saying the federal government has violated the Constitution by disregarding the Guarantee Clause.  That portion says that the United States will guarantee to its states a republican form of government, and will protect each of them from invasion.  

“Texas has this right (to defend the border) because the Biden administration is violating the Constitution,” Hageman told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday. “This entire situation says far more about the willful dereliction of border security by Joe Biden and Alejandro Mayorkas than anything else – actually having razor wire cut and barriers removed? It doesn’t sound like an administration that wants to secure our border in any way.” 

Here’s Some More Razor Wire 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott agrees with Hageman’s analysis, according to a public statement he dispatched Wednesday.  

“The failure of the Bident administration to fulfill (these duties) has triggered (a clause giving) this state the right of self-defense,” wrote Abbott.

He’s declared an invasion and has authorized his agencies to act on their authority to secure the Texas border, the statement says.  

Abbott doubled down after the Supreme Court’s Monday order, deploying state troops and miles and miles of razor wire.  

To be clear, the high court’s order doesn’t bar Texas from putting up razor wire, it simply allows federal agents to cut the wire while the lawsuit is ongoing.  

Abbott posted photos Tuesday to his personal page on X.com (formerly Twitter), showing Texas National Guard soldiers staring out at the river through loops of tangled wire. 

Five Justices On Monday 

The Biden administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 2, to vacate a lower court’s order stopping federal agents from cutting razor wire the Texas Military Department raised on private property in Eagle Pass, a border town and the “epicenter” of migrant influx.  

The high court sided with Biden in a 5-4 split. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the liberal-leaning justices in vacating the lower court’s injunction.  

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh would have denied the order favoring the Biden administration.  

But the case, Texas v. Department of Homeland Security, which Texas filed in October, has yet to be heard on its merits and is not final. The case contemplates whether federal agents break Texas law by destroying its property, the razor wire.   

It’s A Duty 

Prelogar told the high court that federal agents need access to the border to respond to migrants’ medical emergencies and to patrol and inspect people entering the United States.  

She also argued that federal law is on Biden’s side.  

“Like other law-enforcement officers, Border Patrol agents operating under difficult circumstances at the border must make context-dependent, sometimes split-second, decisions about how to enforce federal immigration laws while maintaining public safety,” wrote Prelogar in her Jan. 2 petition to the high court.  

It can take up to half an hour to cut through Texas’ dense razor wire, which can delay lifesaving aid during a medical emergency, she wrote, adding: “Texas cannot use state tort law to restrain federal Border Patrol agents (from) carrying out their federal duties.” 

Texas National Guard members repair razor wire at the U.S. border after a surge of immigrants damaged it.
Texas National Guard members repair razor wire at the U.S. border after a surge of immigrants damaged it. (Getty Images)

Nah, Says Texas 

Texas argued back Jan. 9, calling the federal government “duplicitous” and saying the agencies aren’t fulfilling the duties they say justify the wire-cutting.  

“The evidence presented … amply demonstrates the utter failure of the Defendants to deter, prevent and halt unlawful entry,” says Texas’ response. They can’t “seek judicial blessing of practices that both directly contravene those same statutory obligations and require the destruction of (Texas’) property.”  

Texas cited an “explosion” of immigration, much of it illegal. Thousands of people enter Texas daily. The annual number of Border Patrol encounters with migrants in the act of entering illegal swelled from 458,000 in 2020 to 2.4 million in 2022, the response says.  

Texas also cited the growing industry of Mexican drug cartels, now the fifth-largest employer in Mexico and a lucrative business thriving on lax border policing.   

Back Off 

Texas agents clashed with Customs and Border Patrol agents in October, when the Texans noticed the federal officials cutting the fencing.  

Texas officers tried to document “this ongoing destruction,” and federal agents told them to “back the f*** off,” says the response.  

Later, the federal agents traded the bolt cutters for an industrial-strength forklift to upheave the fence. They held the fence in the air for 20 minutes on Oct. 26, letting 300 people rush under it from the Mexico side, says the filing.  

None of those people appeared to be in distress, reportedly.  

Three Drowned 

One woman and two children drowned in the Rio Grande this month on the Mexico side of the border outside Eagle Pass.  

The federal government claims it could not save the three people because it could not access the border, while the Texas Military Department says Border Patrol agents didn’t even ask for access to the border until the drownings were over and Mexican authorities were recovering the bodies.  

Members of the Texas National Guard watch over a section of the U.S. border with Mexico.
Members of the Texas National Guard watch over a section of the U.S. border with Mexico. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Clair McFarland can be reached at clair@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter