Texas guardsmen set up barriers at Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, Texas, designed to impede the passage of migrants. Jan. 23, 2023.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton defiantly rebuffed the Biden administration’s request for federal access to Shelby Park, a sealed-off area along the southern border controlled by the Texas National Guard. The Biden administration sought entry to the park, previously a hotspot for illegal migrant crossings, but Paxton, in a firm response, denied the demand, citing concerns about creating an “unofficial and unlawful port of entry.”

The conflict over Shelby Park has escalated for three weeks, with Texas guards impeding migrant passage and arresting some adults on state criminal trespassing charges. Governor Greg Abbott contends these measures discourage illegal entry, criticizing the federal government’s border control efforts.

While immigration enforcement is federally mandated, Abbott signed a law to empower Texas officials to arrest migrants on state-level charges. The Justice Department aims to block this law before it takes effect in March.

The Supreme Court has allowed Border Patrol to cut razor wire near the Rio Grande, though the fate of Shelby Park’s seized territory may be subject to federal litigation if the Biden administration sues Texas.

Despite White House criticism, Abbott maintains his stance as defending against an “invasion,” garnering support from fellow Republican governors. Recent data shows a record 302,000 migrants processed at the southern border last month, with crossings decreasing due to heightened Mexican enforcement and post-holiday trends.