In a twist of legal proceedings, a federal judge’s directive commanding Texas to remove the floating border buoys from the Rio Grande has been temporarily thwarted by a federal appeals court. This higher court has now set a hearing for October 5th to address the controversy surrounding the barrier.
The decision ensures that the 1,000-foot-long floating barrier near Eagle Pass will remain in place for at least three more weeks, as reported by The Dallas Morning News.
Last week, Federal Judge David Ezra, presiding over the Western District of Texas, stated in his scathing ruling that Texas had violated the law. He further expressed the belief that the Justice Department was likely to prevail in the civil suit it had filed against Governor Greg Abbott, alleging that Texas had violated a federal law prohibiting unauthorized construction in navigable waterways.
Texas argued that it can ignore federal restrictions on river construction, as the rule applies only to navigable waterways, and the state claims the right to self-defense against what it sees as an “invasion” of migrants and drug smugglers.
Despite federal courts consistently rejecting such claims, emphasizing that migration does not equate to an invasion as defined by the U.S. Constitution, a New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals suspended Judge Ezra’s ruling on Monday. The court notified both the Justice Department and the state of its intention to expedite the scheduling of oral arguments.
In the face of condemnation from both President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and the tragic loss of two migrant lives due to these measures, Gov. Abbott remains resolute in his defense of the barrier.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Gov. Abbott views this case as an opportunity to challenge whether states can invoke their constitutional self-defense rights in response to illegal immigration, categorizing it as an invasion.
The controversy surrounding the border buoys began when the Texas Department of Public Safety started placing them in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass in early July.
The buoys themselves are 4-foot spheres linked by heavy cables to create an unbroken barrier, with sharp-toothed disks between each buoy and a submerged steel mesh to deter divers. The state claims the barrier has effectively reduced smuggling and illegal crossings.
The barrier has caused outrage and has been called “inhumane” by diplomats and advocates.
“Appalled by the ongoing cruel and inhumane tactics employed by @GovAbbott at the Texas border. The situation’s reality is unsettling as these buoys’ true danger and brutality come to light,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia.
Gov. Abbott has made border security a priority, allocating nearly $10 billion to Operation Lone Star, which involves deploying National Guard troops and state troopers to the border. He has repeatedly clashed with the White House, blaming the Biden administration’s immigration policy for the conditions at the border.
“It has been under your watch that migrants have suffered an unprecedented crisis of inhumanity,” Abbott said in the letter to Biden. “If you truly care about human life, you must begin enforcing federal immigration laws.”
With a court hearing scheduled for October 5th, it remains to be seen how these legal disputes will unfold.