US DOJ sues Texas over floating barrier constructed on Rio Grande border with Mexico News
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US DOJ sues Texas over floating barrier constructed on Rio Grande border with Mexico

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a complaint Monday against the State of Texas over its construction of a floating barrier comprised of buoys on the Rio Grande, the river that serves as a border between Mexico and Texas. The suit follows communication from the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division to Texas Governor Greg Abbott last week demanding the state remove the barrier or face legal action.

Filed in the US District Court in the Western District of Texas, the complaint alleges that Texas violated the Rivers and Harbors Act by failing to obtain federal authorization prior to constructing the barrier. A DOJ official cited threats to public safety and humanitarian concerns as primary issues arising as a result of the barrier. According to the press release detailing the suit:

The complaint alleges that, beginning earlier this month, Texas directed the placement of a floating barrier – buoys four to six feet in diameter strung together – in the Rio Grande, approximately two miles south of the Camino Real International Bridge in Eagle Pass, Texas. Governor Abbott has said the state may build more barriers as part of a broader effort called “Operation Lone Star,” which also includes placing concertina wire near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Hours before the complaint was filed, Governor Abbott sent a letter to US President Joe Biden regarding the threat of legal action. In it, he cited Article I, § 10, Clause 3 of the US Constitution as support for his placing of the buoys. Similar to messages communicated by Governor Abbott in a January 2023 letter and a November 2022 letter, the Governor’s latest letter condemned Biden’s lack of enforcement of immigration laws. It read in part:

But Texas’s action is a side issue. The fact is, if you would just enforce the immigration laws Congress already has on the books, America would not be suffering from your record-breaking level of illegal immigration.

In a tweet, Governor Abbott shared his letter, saying: “Mr. President, Texas will see you in court.”