Texas is refusing to comply with a cease-and-desist letter from the Biden administration over actions by the state that have impeded U.S. Border Patrol agents from accessing part of the border with Mexico.
In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton rejected the Biden administration’s request for the state to “cease and desist” its takeover of Shelby Park, an epicenter of southwest border illegal immigration in Eagle Pass.
“Because the facts and law side with Texas, the State will continue utilizing its constitutional authority to defend her territory, and I will continue defending those lawful efforts in court,” Paxton wrote.
When reached for comment, a DHS spokesperson referred NBC News to Department of Homeland Security General Counsel Jonathan Meyer’s letter this week directing the state to stop blocking the Border Patrol’s full access to roughly 2½ miles of the U.S.-Mexico border occupied by the state’s National Guard.
DHS officials said Saturday that a woman and two children drowned in the Rio Grande after Border Patrol agents “were physically barred by Texas officials from entering the area” under orders from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
The Texas Military Department disputed the DHS statement, saying its personnel were aware of a distress report but had not detected any distressed migrants.
A White House spokesperson criticized Abbott’s immigration policies in response to the drownings, saying in a statement this week that his “political stunts are cruel, inhumane and dangerous.”
In Wednesday’s letter, Paxton said any suggestion the state was responsible for the deaths “is vile and, as you now should be aware, completely inaccurate.”
The Biden administration has threatened to refer the matter to the Justice Department if Texas denies Border Patrol agents full access to the area.