AUSTIN, Texas — Federal Lawsuit to Restart Border Wall Construction Revived by Appeals Court
The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on June 16 that a lawsuit brought by Missouri and Texas in 2021 had the standing to proceed, overturning the decision of a lower court.
“Texas alleges (and [the Department of Homeland Security] has in the past affirmed) border barriers (i) reduce illegal entries in areas where constructed, and (ii) increase the rate at which illegal aliens are detected and apprehended,” U.S. Circuit Judge Edith Jones wrote in the panel’s decision.
The Texas General Land Office, led by then-Commissioner George P. Bush, filed a lawsuit against the federal government in July 2021 after all wall construction was halted in a portion of the state’s border with Mexico. The office had leased a 3,000-acre portion of land to Starr County, and Bush argued that the absence of the wall had turned the property into a “superhighway.”
In October 2021, the two states followed suit and sued the Biden administration, claiming that the cancellation of $2.75 billion in congressionally appropriated funding for the border wall had resulted in healthcare, education, and driver’s license costs for illegal immigrants who had been released into the United States after crossing the border unlawfully.
The states argued that if the wall projects had been allowed to continue, these immigrants would not have been able to cross the border.
U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez, an appointee of President George W. Bush, dismissed the states’ case but allowed the General Land Office’s case to proceed, as it demonstrated the harm caused to state land.
The panel of circuit court judges heard the case in December. Led by Judge Jones, the panel determined last week that Texas and Missouri had the standing to proceed, citing the billions of dollars spent by Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) in response to the border crisis, which has seen over 5 million illegal crossings since President Joe Biden took office.
“These benefits [of having a wall would] reduce some number of illegal immigrants entering Texas, even if they do not fully stem the tide, and thereby reduce Texas’s costs relative to a non-border wall policy,” Jones wrote.
Jones has instructed Judge Alvarez to promptly rule on the states’ request for a preliminary injunction.
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