DOJ Asks for Immediate Injunction as It Takes on Texas Over Rio Grande Barrier

DOJ Asks for Immediate Injunction as It Takes on Texas Over Rio Grande Barrier
People walk between razor wire and a string of buoys placed on the water along the Rio Grande border with Mexico in Eagle Pass, Texas, on July 16, 2023. (Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on Wednesday as part of its lawsuit against Texas over the installation of a floating barrier in the Rio Grande.

The DOJ argues that Texas needs to obtain permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before expanding the current barrier installed near Eagle Pass and that the barrier obstructs navigation in the Rio Grande and causes harm.

“The basic facts are clear, and no further inquiry is needed for this Court to grant the United States immediate injunctive relief in this enforcement action,” the filing reads.

“The Floating Barrier also causes imminent irreparable harm because it obstructs lateral navigation across the Rio Grande for hundreds of yards along the river’s length,” the filing reads.

If the injunction is granted, the army would coordinate the barrier’s removal.

Moreover, Mexico has expressed disapproval of the floating barrier, claiming that it contravenes treaty obligations and raises humanitarian concerns, as it may lead to the loss of lives of people swimming in the river.

Mexico lodged a diplomatic complaint in June, alleging that Texas Gov. Greg Abbot’s deployment of buoys violates water treaties between the United States and Mexico.

“Mexico has specifically asserted that Texas’ actions contravene various treaty obligations and has raised humanitarian concerns regarding possible loss of life to persons swimming in the Rio Grande,” the filing reads.

The DOJ’s lawsuit, filed on Monday, accuses Mr. Abbott, a Republican, of installing the barrier without the necessary federal authorization, as required by the Rivers and Harbors Act.

Abbott Defies Biden

Mr. Abbott contests the DOJ’s claim that the buoys violate the Rivers and Harbors Act.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta has stated that the barrier poses threats to navigation and public safety, and has implications for U.S. foreign policy due to diplomatic protests from Mexico.

Mr. Abbott has defended his decision to install the barrier, asserting that it is part of Operation Lone Star, an effort to address broader immigration issues. Texas officials believe that the barrier discourages migrants from crossing the Rio Grande, which they consider hazardous.

Texas Department of Public Safety director Steve McCraw has previously argued that crossing the Rio Grande is inherently “a risk to the migrants” and that the barrier “is the deterrent from even coming in the water.”

The governor and other Texas officials have argued that they placed buoys in the Rio Grande to prevent drowning deaths among illegal immigrants attempting to cross into the United States.

“Texas will see you in court, Mr. President,” the Republican wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden (pdf) on Monday.

Four people, including an infant, drowned near Eagle Pass around the Fourth of July holiday, as they tried to cross the Rio Grande, officials said.

“Neither of us wants to see another death in the Rio Grande River,” Mr. Abbott wrote. “Yet your open-border policies encourage migrants to risk their lives by crossing illegally through the water, instead of safely and legally at a port of entry. Nobody drowns on a bridge.”

Mr. Abbott emphasized that if Mr. Biden enforces the existing immigration laws, it would prevent America from experiencing a record-breaking level of illegal immigration.

The International Boundary and Water Commission, responsible for U.S.-Mexico treaties and boundary demarcation, claims that Texas did not inform them in advance about the floating barrier. As a result, there are concerns about potential impacts on U.S.-Mexico treaties related to the Rio Grande.

Frank Fisher, a spokesperson for the International Boundary and Water Commission, said they are assessing Texas’s proposal and its potential impact on U.S.-Mexico treaties, including matters related to the Rio Grande.

Approximately 90 House Democrats have called on the Biden administration to take action against Texas over the Rio Grande barrier, citing injuries and drownings as reasons for their concern.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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