It’s approaching High Noon in Eagle Pass, Texas.
A standoff between federal authorities and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is coming to a head in the besieged border town, with the Department of Homeland Security demanding access to a migrant-packed park.
Abbott escalated the feud this week, ordering the Texas National Guard to erect new fencing in and around the area to block border agents and all others from entering.
The Department of Homeland Security ripped the gambit in a Friday court filing, demanding access to the park.
“Because border patrol can no longer access or view this stretch of of the border, Texas has effectively prevented border patrol from monitoring the border to determine whether a migrant requires the emergency aid” they are legally allowed to render, the motion states.
Eagle Pass Mayor Rolando Salinas called attention to the measure this week, telling reporters that he had no advance notice and was opposed to the move.
“The City of Eagle Pass played no role in the decision of the takeover of Shelby Park by the State of Texas,” he wrote on Twitter, adding later that he was exploring all legal options available to him to regain control.
The park, which abuts the Rio Grande, has been overwhelmed with migrants who’ve been congregating there after crossing the river separating Mexico and the US.
Abbott has been increasingly critical of what he has described as the Biden administration’s laxity in curbing the flow of illegal immigrants into the state.
He defended the takeover of the 50-acre expanse during an unrelated press conference Friday.
“Texas has legal authority to control ingress into any geographic location in the state of Texas.” Abbott told reporters.
A spokesperson for Abbott said Thursday that Texas was being forced to fill a security vacuum created by the White House.
“Texas will continue to deploy Texas National Guard soldiers, DPS troopers, and more barriers, utilizing every tool and strategy to respond to President Biden’s ongoing border crisis,” Renae Eze said.
A spokesperson for the Texas National Guard spokesperson said the annexation was warranted given the porousness of the southern border.
“The Texas National Guard has maintained a presence with security points and temporary barrier in Shelby Park since 2021. The current posture is to prepare for future illegal immigrant surges and to restrict access to organizations that perpetuate illegal immigrant crossings in the park and greater Eagle Pass area,” a spokesperson for the department said in an email.
In a December decision, a court of appeals barred federal authorities from removing concertina fencing erected by Texas authorities in Eagle Pass.
Friday’s DHS filing asserted that the ruling exempted situations where the barriers prevented the provision of “emergency medical aid.”
This week’s fencing additions, they argued, violated that aspect of the ruling.
In addition, the barriers cut off border patrol agents from a boat ramp they used to monitor a critical stretch of the Rio Grande.
Abbott’s order demonstrates “an escalation of the State’s measures to block Border Patrol’s ability to patrol or even to surveil the border and be in a position to respond to emergencies,” the filing states.
DHS officials demanded that the injunction be lifted to “restore Border Patrol’s access to the border it is charged with patrolling and the migrants it is responsible for apprehending, inspecting, and processing,” wrote US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar in the motion.
Video posted by Salinas showed the entrances to the area blocked and military vehicles stationed inside to prevent entry.
The mayor said he was not given a timetable for a reopening, noting that the closure imperiled special events and festivals scheduled to take place in the park in the spring.
He was not available for comment Friday.
While illegal crossings into the US from Mexico dipped to 2,500 Monday, Eagle Pass has absorbed thousands of migrants in recent months.
The Del Rio sector, where Eagle Pass lies, saw more than 81,000 immigrants seeking a new life hand themselves over to US authorities during October and November.
The siege on the border has only increased since then, with a monthly record 302,000 migrants encountered, according to ABC sources, most of whom are being waved into the country.
The Department of Homeland Security admitted “above 85%” of migrants apprehended at the southern border are being released into the US, according to a report by Fox News.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas made the stunning admission during a private meeting with border agents at the overrun Eagle Pass crossing on Monday.