OAN’s Abril Elfi
5:22 PM – Wednesday, September 6, 2023
A federal judge ordered Texas to remove the floating barriers in Rio Grande and forbade the state from adding more buoys to the river.
On Wednesday, Judge David Alan Ezra filed court documents ordering the state of Texas to remove the bayous in Rio Grande that are meant to stop migrants from crossing the border illegally.
The border barrier has been a controversial topic since they were placed as part of Governor Greg Abbott’s (R-Texas) border security plans.
The Justice Department claimed in the lawsuit that Texas and Abbott violated the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act by constructing a structure in U.S. waters without permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and sought an injunction to prevent Texas from constructing additional barriers in the river.
Meanwhile, the Republican governor has claimed that the buoys are intended to dissuade migrants from coming into the state from Mexico and has appealed the order.
“This ruling is incorrect and will be overturned on appeal. We will continue to utilize every strategy to secure the border, including deploying Texas National Guard soldiers and Department of Public Safety troopers and installing strategic barriers,” Abbott’s office said in a statement, adding that the state “is prepared to take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
The judge argued that Abbott needed permission to install the barriers, as dictated by law.
“Governor Abbott announced that he was not ‘asking for permission’ for Operation Lone Star, the anti-immigration program under which Texas constructed the floating barrier. Unfortunately for Texas, permission is exactly what federal law requires before installing obstructions in the nation’s navigable waters,” the judge wrote in his ruling.
Ezra also considered Texas’ defense argument, saying that the barricades were erected in response to invasions.
“This argument fails because (1) the RHA has already balanced policy interests and determined that the nation’s interest in free navigation of its waterways is supreme to unauthorized state action, and (2) whether Texas’s claim of ‘invasion’ is legitimate is a non-justiciable political question demonstrably committed to the federal political branches,” he wrote.
The Justice Department filed the complaint after Abbott stated that he would not order the removal of the floating obstacles from the Rio Grande, despite the department’s request a few days prior.
Last month, Ezra heard arguments in the case, during which the Justice Department focused not only on its claim that the buoys violated federal law, but also on the buoys’ role in fraying relations with Mexico, which has expressed concern about the “inhumane” barriers and claimed that they are partially on its territory.
Meanwhile, Texas officials claimed that they had the constitutional authority to deploy the floating barriers.
Ezra urged that the state’s attorneys focus on the buoys rather than other matters, such as fentanyl being transported into the U.S. and illegal immigration on the U.S. southern border.
Another lawsuit against the barriers had been filed in early July by the owner of a Texas canoe and kayaking company that operates on the Rio Grande.
The judge has now ordered that Texas removes the barrier at their own expense by September 15th.
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