5th Circuit orders Texas to remove buoys from Rio Grande

A panel of federal appellate judges in New Orleans, Louisiana handed a setback to Gov. Greg Abbott and his buoy barrier system on the Rio Grande as it affirmed a district judge’s direction to remove the aquatic devices pending litigation.

While a U.S. district judge granted the federal government’s request for a preliminary injunction in the case, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an administrative stay in September. The appellate court’s latest decision on Friday lifts the stay and gives teeth to the original order commanding Texas to move the barriers.

According to court documents, the Abbott administration advised that it would cost $300,000 to relocate the buoy barriers.

“The district court relied on all the evidence discussed herein to find that the balance of hardships tips in favor of the United States. It considered the threat to navigation and federal government operations on the Rio Grande, as well as the potential threat to human life the floating barrier created,” the panel wrote in its decision.

Abbott blasted the decision in a social media post on Friday afternoon, pledging to continue fighting to keep the buoys on the river.

“The 5th Cir. Court of Appeals’ denial of Texas’ sovereign authority to secure the border with floating marine barriers is clearly wrong. AG Paxton & I will seek an immediate rehearing by the entire court. We’ll go to SCOTUS if needed to protect Texas from Biden’s open borders,” Abbott wrote.

“All of the district court’s findings of fact were well supported by the record, and its conclusion that the equities favor issuance of a preliminary injunction was not an abuse of discretion.”

On one hand, the decision could be seen as a surprise because the 5th Circuit is regarded as a friendlier venue for conservative ventures. However, Abbott’s strategy of invoking the notion of an “invasion” by illegal immigrants is aggressive and has detractors on both ends of the political spectrum.

Progressive opponents of Abbott, including Beto O’Rourke, the governor’s Democratic opponent in the 2022 election, have characterized the buoys as death traps. The placement of the barriers coincided with allegations that state police were denying water and aid to people in distress. The governor’s office denied the accusations.

The Biden administration contends that the floating barriers violate international law by obstructing the navigable waters of the Rio Grande. The counterargument is that Texas placed the buoys in shallow waters and has the right to secure its border amid historic levels of illegal immigration.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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