AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Texas Governor Greg Abbott regarding the recent installation of a floating barrier on the Rio Grande. This barrier, consisting of bright orange buoys that stretch roughly 1,000 feet along the border, is the latest measure taken by the Republican governor to deter migrants from crossing into the United States from Mexico.
The Biden administration contends that the barrier raises humanitarian and environmental concerns and has asked a federal judge in Austin to require Texas to remove it. The lawsuit alleges that Texas unlawfully installed the barrier without permission between the border cities of Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras, Mexico.
This floating barrier is just one part of Texas’s ongoing border security efforts, which also include razor-wire fencing, arresting migrants for trespassing, and transporting asylum-seekers to Democratic-led cities in other states. However, critics have raised doubts about the effectiveness of this two-year operation, known as Operation Lone Star. In fact, there has been increasing scrutiny after a state trooper reported that some of these measures have resulted in injuries to migrants.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, migrant encounters have decreased by 30% since new federal policies were implemented in June, reaching the lowest levels since President Biden’s first full month in office.
In response to the impending lawsuit, Governor Abbott sent a letter to President Biden earlier today, defending Texas’s right to install the barrier. He criticized the President for failing to take stronger action to deter migrants from making the journey to the United States.
“Texas will see you in court, Mr. President,” Abbott wrote.
Decrease in Illegal Border Crossings Since New Immigration Restrictions
The Biden administration claims that illegal border crossings have significantly decreased since the implementation of new immigration restrictions in May. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, migrant encounters in June were 30% lower compared to the previous month, reaching the lowest levels seen since President Biden took office.
Challenges at the Rio Grande
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, expressed concerns about Texas Governor Abbott’s policies, stating that they have made it difficult for U.S. Border Patrol agents to access the Rio Grande. She described these actions as unlawful and undermining the president’s efforts regarding immigration.
Warning from the Justice Department
Last week, the Justice Department sent a letter to Texas, giving them until Monday to remove a barrier deployed in the Rio Grande or face legal action. The department highlighted that the barrier poses risks to navigation, public safety, and raises humanitarian concerns.
Violation of International Treaties
Mexico’s secretary of state has requested federal intervention, stating that the barrier violates international treaties. The state of Texas installed the barrier without notifying the International Boundary and Water Commission or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
This lawsuit is not the first time that the Biden administration has sued Texas over its actions regarding the border. In 2021, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland accused the state of infringing on and interfering with the federal government’s responsibility to enforce immigration laws. This was in response to Governor Abbott empowering state troopers to stop vehicles carrying migrants due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
Overall, the Biden administration emphasizes the decrease in illegal border crossings and expresses concerns over Texas’ actions impacting border patrol efforts. The situation has escalated to a potential lawsuit, with international treaties also being cited as a point of contention.