Locked in a legal battle with the Biden administration over immigration enforcement, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said on Sunday that he was expanding his effort to establish state control over areas near the Rio Grande in an effort to deter migrants.
Mr. Abbott, flanked by 13 other Republican governors, said that Texas would not limit its high-intensity efforts to the small municipal park along the river in Eagle Pass where the state has taken over and limited access for federal agents. A top Texas official said state law enforcement officers were also looking to move in on riverside ranch land north of the city that migrants have continued to use for crossing.
Texas has deployed National Guard troops and state police officers up and down the Texas border since 2021, and began stringing concertina wire along the banks of the river the next year. What changed last month in the park, known as Shelby Park, is that Texas began preventing federal agents from routine access to the riverbank or from using the park to detain and process large numbers of migrants.
“As we speak right now, the Texas National Guard, they’re undertaking operations to expand this effort,” Mr. Abbott said during a news conference at the park. “We’re not going to contain ourselves to this park. We are expanding to further areas to make sure we expand our level of deterrence and denial of illegal entry into the United States.”
Mr. Abbott described the arrival of migrants as an “invasion” that permitted Texas, under the U.S. Constitution, to take on the job of enforcing immigration laws, an area that the Supreme Court has in the past left to the federal government. Whether he has the power to do so is being contested in court by the Biden administration.
A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The agency has previously said that it, not the state, is responsible for detaining and processing those who have crossed the border illegally.