(CTN NEWS) – The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday regarding a newly implemented floating barrier on the Rio Grande.
This barrier, consisting of bright orange, wrecking ball-sized buoys stretching about 1,000 feet (305 meters), is Governor Abbott’s latest aggressive measure to prevent migrants from crossing into the United States from Mexico.
In response to the installation, the Biden administration has expressed concerns about the barrier’s humanitarian and environmental implications.
Lawsuit Seeks Removal of Unauthorized Barrier Installed by Texas on Rio Grande
The lawsuit seeks intervention from a federal judge in Austin, urging Texas to remove the buoys. According to the suit, Texas installed the barrier without proper permission, specifically between the border cities of Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras, Mexico.
These buoys represent the most recent escalation in Texas’ border security efforts, which have already involved measures like razor-wire fencing, the arrest of migrants on trespassing charges, and the transportation of busloads of asylum-seekers to Democratic-led cities in other states.
However, critics have been skeptical about the effectiveness of the two-year-long operation known as “Operation Lone Star.” The situation gained further scrutiny when a state trooper reported this month that some of these measures resulted in injuries to migrants.
Texas Governor Defends Border Barrier in Letter to President Biden, Legal Battle Looms
Prior to the lawsuit being filed, Governor Abbott addressed President Joe Biden in a letter on Monday, defending Texas’ right to erect the barrier.
He accused President Biden of jeopardizing migrants’ safety by not taking stronger measures to discourage them from attempting the journey to the United States.
In response to the situation, Governor Abbott stated, “Texas will see you in court, Mr. President.”
The Biden administration, on the other hand, contends that illegal border crossings have notably decreased since implementing new immigration restrictions in May.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, migrant encounters in June—being the first full month following the implementation of these policies—saw a 30% decrease compared to the previous month, reaching the lowest levels since President Biden’s first full month in office.
White House Expresses Concerns Over Texas Governor’s Border Policies and Legal Action Ensues
During a press briefing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre expressed concerns about Governor Abbott’s policies, stating that they have created challenges for U.S. Border Patrol agents in accessing the Rio Grande.
Jean-Pierre characterized these actions as unlawful and uncooperative, undermining the efforts put forth by President Biden.
Last week, the Justice Department sent a letter to Texas, giving them until Monday to commit to removing the barrier or face legal action.
The letter highlighted the risks posed by the buoy wall, citing potential navigation hazards and public safety issues in the Rio Grande River, along with humanitarian concerns.
The state installed the buoys without notifying the International Boundary and Water Commission or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Furthermore, Mexico’s secretary of state requested the federal government’s intervention, claiming that the barrier violates international treaties.
This lawsuit is not the first occasion where the Biden administration has taken legal action against Texas regarding its border-related actions.
In 2021, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland accused the state of overstepping its authority and interfering with the federal government’s responsibility to enforce immigration laws.
This came after Governor Abbott empowered state troopers to halt vehicles carrying migrants, citing concerns about potential COVID-19 spread.
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