Border Crisis

DHS Sends 2nd Demand Notice to Texas over Seized Park Access

EAGLE PASS, Texas —Department of Homeland Security General Counsel Jonathan Meyer sent a second demand letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton demanding the state of Texas grant full, unimpeded access to a border city park and boat ramp. The Texas Military Department seized Shelby Park in early January. Tuesday’s letter sets a deadline of January 26, for the state to grant the Border Patrol full access to Shelby Park and other areas along a 2.5 mile stretch of the Rio Grande in the small Texas border town of Eagle Pass.

The letter, attached below, directly addresses Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court order freeing the Border Patrol to cut wire and fencing installed by the state to gain access to the border under their statutory authority to enter private lands without warrant within 25 miles of the border. The 5-4 decision paused a lower court’s ruling that had previously blocked such action.

The letter addresses the issue by saying, “As you are aware, yesterday, the Supreme Court vacated the injunction prohibiting the Department from cutting or moving the concertina wire that Texas had placed along the border except in case of emergency, and restored the Department’s right to cut and move the concertina wire placed by Texas in order to perform their statutory duties. The Department must also have the ability to access the border in the Shelby Park area that is currently obstructed by Texas.”

The letter demands unfettered access to several areas in and around the park stating,

“In sum, we require full access to the Shelby Park area currently obstructed by Texas, including but not limited to the following locations to patrol the border and directly monitor the Rio Grande River consistent with U.S. Border Patrol’s responsibility and statutory authorities:

  • Access to Eagle Pass International Bridge Port of Entry II, also known as Camino Real International Bridge, from the Loop 480 access road, 24 hours a day. This is to include beneath the port of entry as well.
  • Access through the federal border barrier entrances described above located on Ford Street, Main Street, near the intersection of Rio Grande Street and Ryan Street, and the two entrances on the end of Ryan Street, for Border Patrol to move through and conduct line watch duties and patrol within the Shelby Park area 24 hours a day.
  • Full access to the boat ramp located at Shelby Park Main Street entrance, consistent with the perpetual easement.
  • Unrestricted access to the entire Shelby Park area during emergency circumstances, including but not limited to, assistance to other agents and officers as well as medical and rescue operations.

“By January 26, 2024, please confirm that the State will provide U.S. Border Patrol with the access described above,” the letter continues. “If the State refuses the requested access in part, but not in whole, please specify what access you intend to deny.”

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As reported by Breitbart Texas, the first DHS letter to Paxton was sent on January 10 in response to the seizure of Shelby Park and did not result in resolution by the specified deadline. The letter claimed the state was failing to honor the statutory authority granted to Border Patrol agents to patrol private lands within 25 miles of the border without a warrant by denying access and setting conditions upon the Border Patrol for entry placed into the park.

In addition, the DHS letter asserted the placement of the temporary gates at the entrance of the park, put in place by state authorities, were on federal land. The land in question was acquired by the federal government after an intense legal battle with the City of Eagle Pass over the right to erect a border fence as required by the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol.  Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.

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