Litigation Tracker: Border Wall Intervenors; Razor Wire Back to the Fifth; TX wants CHNV Do-over

In addition to its usual showers and unusual celestial events, this April has also brought several developments in extremist litigation challenge immigrant-inclusive policies; and as usual, most of those developments are out of federal courts in Texas. See below and our microsite for the latest. 

Applying border wall injunction gets messy, could stiff third parties who want to intervene 

Texas’s border wall case has been active since Judge Tipton issued the March 8 preliminary injunction prohibiting DHS from using billions in appropriations for anything but “physical barriers.” The injunction was stayed three times (until March 29, when it went into effect) while the parties briefed and argued disagreements about its application to specific projects, which Judge Tipton seemingly resolved (orally) at a hearing. Since then, the parties have requested converting the preliminary injunction into a permanent one, after which the federal government might appeal. Judge Tipton has set a hearing for Wednesday, April 17 to discuss the parties’ request. 

In parallel, third parties adversely affected by the injunction have filed three separate motions to intervene in the case. Two intervenors are contractors claiming to be owed millions for work performed under contracts the Trump Administration awarded; the other intervenor is a private landowner whose ranch reportedly suffered millions in environmental damage caused by Trump-era border wall construction. The federal government told them all that Judge Tipton’s injunction effectively prohibits their compensation; the putative intervenors ultimately seek an order declaring the opposite. Briefing on their motions to intervene is ongoing. 

Chief Judge Moses issues razor wire “supplemental findings of fact,” sending case back to the Fifth Circuit 

In late March (following the earlier evidentiary hearing), Chief Judge Moses issued an opinion detailing her findings of fact (while also noting their seeming irrelevance to the pending appeal), most of which concerned Texas’s self-proclaimed “military operation” to seize the Eagle Pass area. Of note, she found that the tragic drownings in January took place before Border Patrol could arrive to the area (although many other details around these drownings remain unclear). She also noted uncertainty about whether Texas’s takeover has had an impact on border crossings (there or elsewhere) or if it impedes Border Patrol’s work. The opinion concluded by expressing deep concern over the disintegration of the relationship between the respective law enforcement agencies and reminded them to remember their obligation “to serve the public.” The appeal of Chief Judge Moses’ earlier preliminary injunction decision will now proceed. 

Texas appeals its CHNV parole loss, also asks Judge Tipton to change his mind  

As expected, Texas has formally appealed Judge Tipton’s March 8 decision dismissing the State’s challenge to the CHNV parole program; the Fifth Circuit has not yet issued a briefing schedule. Since noticing that appeal, Texas filed a motion asking Judge Tipton to reconsider his decision, asserting that he was wrong to disagree with Texas’s legal arguments (which the motion just rehashes). Briefing on that motion is ongoing. 

As always, we’ll keep you posted on these and other cases.   

Thanks for reading,  

Joan Agoh

Communications Specialist

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