In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton rejected the Biden administration’s request for the state to “cease and desist” its takeover of Shelby Park, an epicenter of illegal immigration on the southwest border at Eagle Pass.
“Because the facts and the law are on Texas’s side, the state will continue to use its constitutional authority to defend its territory, and I will continue to defend these legal efforts in court,” Paxton wrote.
When reached for comment, a DHS spokesperson referred NBC News to Department of Homeland Security General Counsel Jonathan Meyer’s letter this week. direction the state to stop blocking full Border Patrol access to approximately 2½ miles of the U.S.-Mexico border manned by the state National Guard.
DHS officials said Saturday that a woman and two children drowned in the Rio Grande after Border Patrol agents “were physically barred by Texas authorities from entering the area” under orders from Republican Governor Greg Abbott.
The Texas Military Department disputed the DHS statement, saying its staff was aware of a distress report but had not detected any migrants in distress.
A White House spokesperson criticized Abbott’s immigration policies in response to the drownings, saying in a statement this week that his “policy maneuvers are cruel, inhumane and dangerous.”
In Wednesday’s letter, Paxton said any suggestion that the state was responsible for the deaths “is despicable and, as you should know by now, completely inaccurate.”
The Biden administration has threatened to refer the case to the Justice Department if Texas denies Border Patrol agents full access to the area.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com