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The Justice Department Sued Texas Over A Floating Barrier Intended To Discourage Migrant Crossings Of The Rio Grande

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Texas on Monday for positioning buoys in the Rio Grande as part of Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s effort to prevent migrants from entering the United States.

In the lawsuit, Texas was alleged to have violated federal law by installing the barrier, and a judge was requested to order its removal.

The lawsuit was filed days after the Justice Department informed Governor Abbott of its intention to prosecute if Texas did not remove the buoys by Monday afternoon.

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Regarding the lawsuit, the governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Abbott sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Monday, accusing him of attempting to stifle his state’s “sovereign interest” in border security.

“In a late-night letter sent to me last Thursday, your Department of Justice lawyers threatened to sue the State of Texas over the floating marine barriers we have deployed in the Rio Grande River at Eagle Pass,” Abbott, a Republican, wrote to Biden. “Texas will be seeing you in court, Mr. President.”

Abbott sent his letter to the governor just days after the DOJ sent its own letter. This letter argued, among other things, that the barrier endangers public safety and could impede the federal government’s official duties.

On July 11, a laborer helps deploy a string of large buoys that will serve as a barrier in the middle of the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, Texas. Eric Gay/AAssociated Press

In his letter, the governor of Texas accused the Biden administration of repeatedly interfering with the state’s sovereignty, citing letters he had previously sent to the president regarding border security.

In a letter sent to Abbott on Friday, the Department of Justice stated that the river buoys contravene the Rivers and Harbors Act and raise humanitarian concerns.

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On July 11, 2023, migrants attempting to enter the United States from Mexico approached the site in Eagle Pass, Texas, where employees are assembling large buoys to be used as a border barrier along the banks of the Rio Grande. Eric Gay/AAssociated Press

Abbott, however, stated that the act does not apply to Texas’ actions and that, while he shares the administration’s concern for the welfare of migrants, Biden’s “finger points in the wrong direction.”

“Neither of us wants to see another death in the Rio Grande River,” wrote Abbott. “However, your open-border policies encourage migrants to risk their lives by crossing illegally through the water, as opposed to entering lawfully and safely at a port of entry. Nobody has ever drowned on a bridge.”



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