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  • Writer's pictureArmstrong Williams

Dueling ‘Cowboys’ at Eagle Pass: The Texas Standoff Is About More Than Razor Wire

January 31, 2024 |

Migrants wade across the Rio Grande while crossing from Mexico into the United States on Jan. 07, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas.John Moore/Getty Images

here's a standoff in Texas, and it’s not between cowboys this time. It’s between the Texas National Guard and federal border agents in Eagle Pass. All of this is occurring in the wake of a Supreme Court decision requiring the Texas National Guard to grant access to federal border agents deployed by the Biden administration to take down razor wire erected by the state to prevent the influx of undocumented migrants. 

Recent events have caused widespread anger regarding the deployment of razor wire along the border, specifically in areas on the water. People expressed concern that migrants who encounter difficulties while crossing the water could drown in the absence of assistance from border agents. On Jan. 12, these concerns came to a head when a mother and her two children perished while attempting to traverse the Rio Grande River. The drownings occurred in the vicinity of Eagle Pass, the site of the ongoing confrontation. 

The United States has seen a mass influx of migrants over the past year — 2.5 million encounters with migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Undoubtedly, the issue buried deep within this is the fact that most of these unauthorized border crossings happen in Texas, a state that is grappling with the challenge of supporting its estimated 1.7 million illegal immigrant inhabitants. States such as New York, to which Florida and Texas have bussed migrants — and which are “sanctuary states,” despite frequently bemoaning their inability to assist the migrants because of a lack of resources — are vastly outmanned by this figure. 

Eagle Pass, Texas, in particular, is a hotbed for migrant inflows. The small city — 28,130 people in the 2020 census — has become known as a “border town.” Yet Eagle Pass has a rich history, beginning as a garrison town named for the abundance of Mexican eagles that circled the area, and evolving into a customs point for the cotton and munitions trade between Mexico and the Confederacy after soldiers withdrew. 

At this moment, Eagle Pass is the focal point of the immigration debate in the United States. 

After the Supreme Court ruled that the Texas National Guard could not prevent the entry of border agents to cut down the razor wire, video surfaced online purportedly showing Texas officers erecting even more razor wire, and capturing Texas officers impeding the entry of Border Patrol Humvees into the region, although reports have indicated there have been no hostilities thus far. After all, Texans don’t want to harm Texans. 

But what does this all mean? This situation is becoming the perfect analogy for the border crisis that the Biden administration has provoked: a standoff between the federal government and the state that bears the brunt of the administration’s immigration policies. It’s no wonder that 25 Republican governors have signed a letter stating they stand in solidarity with Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and the Texas National Guard. 

At the heart of this situation is the question of whether states will allow themselves to be trampled by the federal government. The tragic aspect of this situation is that the federal government is attempting to compel Texas to accept and process migrants they don't want, and then Texas is told they can’t send them elsewhere. 

The end result must take care of migrants, not the federal government. Many Americans, and Texans in particular, are not oblivious to the injustice of the situation; they are the ones who daily contend with problems that illegal immigration can produce. Abbott’s decision to begin transporting migrants to other states by bus is unsurprising, given that these states have contributed significantly to the crisis Texas is experiencing due to their elected officials’ influence in Congress. 

There is more to the standoff in Texas than merely a disagreement over razor wire and border control restrictions. It is a prime example of a more extensive and intricate dispute concerning the sovereignty of states, the authority of the federal government, and the handling of immigration in the United States. 

This standoff in Texas likely will be remembered in history as the moment when states fought back — even if there is no bloodshed. I pray that no hostilities transpire and that there is a favorable outcome. 

Armstrong Williams is manager/sole owner of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the year.

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