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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sues Biden administration in bid to force construction of U.S.-Mexico border wall

FILE - In this June 28, 2020, file photo, Texas State Attorney General Ken Paxton waits on the flight line for Vice President Mike Pence to arrive in Dallas. The Texas bar association has opened an investigation into whether Paxton's failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election amounted to professional misconduct. After Paxton, a Republican, petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in December to block Joe Biden's victory, a Democratic Party activist filed a complaint with the bar association calling the case frivolous. The bar initially declined to investigate, but a tribunal overturned that decision late last month. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and his counterpart from Missouri filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the Biden administration, claiming it broke the law by halting border wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“The Biden administration’s flat refusal to use funds that have already been set aside by Congress to build the border wall is not only illegal and unconstitutional,” Paxton said, “It’s also wrong, and it leaves states like Texas and Missouri footing the bill.”

On Inauguration Day, Biden ordered a pause on all border wall construction and an assessment of federal government contracts already awarded for the project, calling former President Donald Trump’s signature promise a “waste of money” and saying that it was “not a serious policy solution.”

The lawsuit, filed against Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in the U.S. district court in Victoria, argues that Congress had set aside $1.375 billion to construct barriers along the southwest border and that the Biden administration doesn’t have the constitutional authority to refuse to spend money that Congress authorized for border wall construction.

Trump’s administration erected about 80 miles of new barrier before he left office, including 21 miles along the Texas-Mexico border.

The Department of Homeland Security didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

This lawsuit is the second filed by Paxton and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt against the Biden administration.

Earlier this year, Paxton and Schmitt sued the Biden administration, claiming it had violated administrative law by ending the Migrant Protection Protocols, a Trump-era program unofficially called “remain in Mexico,” which forces asylum-seeking migrants to stay in Mexico as their legal cases are pending. The lawsuit argued that human trafficking would increase if MPP was rescinded and that it would cause the two states financial harm.

District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk agreed with Paxton and Schmitt; the Biden administration has said it will obey the judge’s order and restart the policy next month.

Mexico’s government had previously agreed to receive the migrants under the Trump administration, but it hasn’t said if it will do the same for the Biden administration.

“We need to finish President Trump’s wall,” Schmitt said on Thursday during an El Paso news conference announcing the new lawsuit.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/10/21/texas-paxton-border-wall-lawsuit-biden/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.


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