Judge orders Texas to remove floating barrier in Rio Grande designed to deter migrants

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The Justice Department filed a civil suit in July arguing that the floating barrier violated the Rivers and Harbors Act, which bars the creation of any obstruction to the navigable capacity of the nation’s waters without authorization.

It also said the floating barrier “poses risks to health and public safety” by impeding travel across it and inflicts harm to U.S.-Mexico relations.

Attorneys for Texas had countered that the U.S. Constitution afforded Texas the authority to “repel invasions,” including the illegal entry of thousands of migrants, urging the court to hold that the terms of the Rivers and Harbors Act did not apply.

The court on Wednesday sided with the Justice Department, finding that the barrier’s posed threat to human life and “impairment to free and safe navigation” outweighed the state’s interest in installing the system.

The Justice Department lauded the court’s ruling.

“We are pleased that the court ruled that the barrier was unlawful and irreparably harms diplomatic relations, public safety, navigation, and the operations of federal agency officials in and around the Rio Grande,” said Justice Department’s Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta in a statement.

Lawyers for Texas appealed the ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, while Abbott blasted the ruling as “incorrect” and predicted it would be overturned.

“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 said in a statement. “Texas is prepared to take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The floating barrier is part of Texas’ ongoing fight with the Biden administration over immigration policy.

Abbott sent a letter sent to President Joe Biden in July accusing the administration of impeding his state’s “sovereign interest” in securing its border. A month earlier, Abbott sent 42 migrants by bus to Los Angeles and accused Biden of failing “to do his job and secure the border.”

In August, a 3-year-old child who was riding one of Texas’ migrant buses died en route to Chicago. It was the first death announced by the state in connection with the busing program that has sent more than 30,000 migrants to Democratic-controlled cities in the U.S., The Associated Press reported.

Read More: Judge orders Texas to remove floating barrier in Rio Grande designed to deter migrants

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