The Department of Justice slapped Texas with a lawsuit Monday over the floating border barrier that the state erected on the Rio Grande — ratcheting up the White House’s struggle with Gov. Greg Abbott.
Federal prosecutors mentioned Abbott should take away the 1,000-foot-long barrier of buoys that was strung throughout the river earlier this month to thwart unlawful immigrants, saying it was constructed with out federal authorization, in response to a civil grievance filed in Austin federal courtroom.
“We allege that Texas has flouted federal legislation by putting in a barrier within the Rio Grande with out acquiring the required federal authorization,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta mentioned in an announcement. “This floating barrier poses threats to navigation and public security and presents humanitarian considerations. Additionally, the presence of the floating barrier has prompted diplomatic protests by Mexico and dangers damaging U.S. international coverage.”
Todd Kim, assistant legal professional basic of the division’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, which filed the grievance, added, “The Rivers and Harbors Act is evident in prohibiting the location of any unauthorized limitations or obstructions within the Rio Grande and different navigable waters of the United States.
“We intend to hunt the suitable authorized treatments, together with the removing of such obstructions within the Rio Grande,” Kim mentioned.
The lawsuit additionally states Abbott didn’t request authority from the Army Corps of Engineers earlier than starting development, violating the Rivers and Harbors Act.
Texas authorities started stringing the buoys alongside the Rio Grande two miles south of the Camino Real International Bridge in Eagle Pass, Texas, on July 7, in response to the grievance in US District Court for the Western District of Texas.
The 4-foot-wide spherical buoys spin when they’re grabbed, making them troublesome to climb over midwater, and the construction could be moved to different sections of the river when crucial. It value the state $1 million to design.
The Rio Grande is roughly 328 toes vast and in addition residence to alligators.
“We don’t need anyone to get harm,” Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McGraw mentioned of the barrier’s function. “In truth, we wish to forestall folks from getting harm, forestall folks from drowning.”
Abbott anticipated the lawsuit in a letter he despatched to President Biden earlier Monday, when he warned that the state believes it had the constitutional authority to construct the limitations “as a result of the President refuses to implement federal immigration legal guidelines.
“If you actually care about human life, you have to start imposing federal immigration legal guidelines,” Abbott mentioned. “By doing so, you possibly can assist me cease migrants from wagering their lives within the waters of the Rio Grande River.
“You can even assist me save Texans, and certainly all Americans, from lethal medicine like fentanyl, cartel violence, and the horrors of human trafficking,” he added.
Abbot famous he hand-delivered a letter to Biden in January and despatched one other in November highlighting how the commander-in-chief was flouting immigration legal guidelines through the surge of migrant crossings.
Through his “Operation Lone Star,” the Texas governor has positioned some giant sprials of barbed wire on the US-Mexico border.
“We aren’t asking for permission,” Abbott mentioned earlier this yr of his efforts to safe the border.
US Customs and Border Protection brokers have encountered greater than 1.7 million migrants crossing the southern border in fiscal yr 2023 alone, information present.
At least 748 migrants died attempting to cross illegally into the US in 2022, in response to the Department of Homeland Security.