Judge orders Texas to remove Rio Grande buoy barriers

The State of Texas has been ordered by U.S. District Judge David Ezra to remove the buoy barrier system placed in the Rio Grande River near Eagle Pass by Gov. Greg Abbott as a border security measure under Operation Lone Star (OLS).

The Biden administration filed the lawsuit in the Western District of Texas seeking the removal of the barrier, which has been the subject of criticism since Abbott ordered its placement in July.

State law enforcement has credited the buoys with preventing illegal crossings, which have resulted in hundreds of drownings prior to the installation of the barrier.

The Department of Justice maintains not only that the state flouted federal law in placing the barrier, but has claimed the barrier poses a threat to “public safety” contrary to the claims of state law enforcement.

In his order favoring the DOJ, Ezra wrote in a footnote that the court was sympathetic to curtailing illegal immigration and the illegal importation of drugs. He also cited a story by NPR describing how the vast majority of illegal drugs enter the United States through the ports of entry as opposed to crossing the river, and later said the state’s argument that it had the right to protect itself from an invasion wasn’t convincing.

“Whether Texas’s claim of ‘invasion’ is legitimate is a non-justiciable political question demonstrably committed to the federal political branches,” the court wrote.

Ezra found the barrier violated a federal law that requires a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to place the buoys in a navigable river.

Under the court order, Texas is prohibited from building any new barriers and must work with the U.S. Army Corps to move the barrier to the banks of the river on the Texas side by September 15.

Abbott was quick to respond to the ruling and announced in a statement that the state will appeal the decision.

“Today’s court decision merely prolongs President Biden’s willful refusal to acknowledge that Texas is rightfully stepping up to do the job that he should have been doing all along. This ruling is incorrect and will be overturned on appeal,” Abbott stated in the release.

He then emphasized the state’s efforts to secure the border under OLS and took aim at the Biden administration over the border crisis, saying Texas was prepared to litigate the legality of the barrier to the Supreme Court.

“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 stated. “Our battle to defend Texas’ sovereign authority to protect lives from the chaos caused by President Biden’s open border policies has only begun. Texas is prepared to take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

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