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South Texas Border fence line and remote surveillance camera taken on September 24, 2013.

South Texas Border fence line and remote surveillance camera taken on September 24, 2013. | Photo credit: Donna Burton

January 29, 2024

Border Standoff Between Texas, Feds Intensifies

Ask students: Where are federal officers demanding access and being denied by Texas? How has Texas governor Greg Abbott responded to the Supreme Court ruling and the federal government's demands?

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This week, the Supreme Court sided with federal agents to remove razor wire put in place by Texas along the Rio Grande. The state is using wire and state agents to block Border Patrol from accessing a section of the border in Eagle Pass. Homeland Security is demanding access to the area by Friday, but Gov. Greg Abbott is doubling down. Laura Barrón-López discussed the dispute with Stephen Vladeck.

For a transcript of this story, click here.

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions

  • What decision did the Supreme Court make this past week about the dispute between the federal government and Texas?
  • Where are federal officers demanding access and being denied by Texas?
  • How has Texas governor Greg Abbott responded to the Supreme Court ruling and the federal government's demands?
  • Who has authority over the border, according to guest Stephen Vladeck?
  • Why does federal law supersede (= take priority over) state law, according to Vladeck?

Focus Questions

  • Why do you think the constitutional system has been set up so that federal law takes supremacy over state law?
  • Based on the examples that guest Stephen Vladeck gives at the end of this interview, what do you think might be some of the problems caused by states ignoring federal law or the rulings of the Supreme Court?
  • Media literacy: Who would you want to hear from to better understand the interests and positions of the state and federal governments at odds in this case?

Extension Activity

Read this article for more on the Supreme Court decision regarding the removal of barbed wire blocking federal agents. Then discuss the following:

  • Why do you think the court's decision was divided?
  • Why isn't more known about the reasoning of court members?
  • What do you think the consequences will be if Texas defies a Supreme Court order?

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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