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Lawmakers Accuse Biden of “Weaponizing the Government” in Designating “Endangered” Mussels in Texas Buoy Fiasco

Provided by WFAA-TV Dallas-Ft. Worth
Provided by WFAA-TV Dallas-Ft. Worth

On Wednesday, the Biden administration added two rare species of freshwater river mussels found only in the Rio Grande to the Endangered Species List (ESL), as the United States government is challenging the legality of the Texas border buoy in the same area.

According to the US Fish and Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Mexican Fawnsfoot mussel and the Salina mucket will receive protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) following a public comment period on the proposed listing should the agency decide to add them to the federal register.

"The administration's concerns for the well-being of the mussels seems to be little more than a pretext for preventing Texas from securing the border, which they seem determined to keep wide open," said Ira Mehlman, Media Director at Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

"It would be nice if the administration showed as much concern for the lives and safety of the people who live along the border and for the lives of the migrants themselves," Mehlman told The Foreign Desk.

Should the USFWS decide to add them to the federal register, then the 185-mile section of the Rio Grande just downstream from Eagle Pass will become a protected area for the Mexican Fawnsfoot, and the 200-mile section of river below Big Bend National Park will become a protected area for the Salina mucket.

These new protected regions will be dubbed "critical habitat" areas, which means any action that might harm the mussel's habitat will require approval from the USFWS. The latest decision by the US government prompted responses from lawmakers and Texas officials overseeing the ongoing migration crisis on the US-Southern border with Mexico.

A few weeks ago, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott defended the buoy barrier system to prevent smuggling and illegal immigration, stating that his state "has the sovereign authority to defend our border, under the US Constitution and the Texas Constitution."

The Texas government installed a 1,000-foot line of large, bright-orange buoys, creating a divide in the river that separates the US from Mexico. Texas officials say the new barrier system allows authorities to move and extend the floating border to cover 'hot spots' where migrants are sneaking in.

On Twitter, Texas land commissioner Dawn Buckingham reacted to the US government's decision arguing that the Biden White House thinks mussels are "deemed a higher priority than the children and drugs being trafficked across our border."

"While Biden has failed to use federal powers to secure the border, he has no problem weaponizing the government to prevent states from doing so in his absence," read a statement from Texas' 19th District Congressman Jodey Arrington (R-19).

Arrington asked where the USFWS' concerns were when "millions of migrants trampled the mussel's "critical habitat" while illegally crossing the Rio Grande."

“Cleary Biden is more concerned about disrupting the habitat of the Mexican mussels than disrupting the operations of Mexican cartels who are destroying the lives of Americans and migrants alike," he said.

Immigration experts and lawmakers note that the Biden administration's recent decision is nothing new given that the White House attempted to list the Sage Brush Sand Dunes Lizard under the ESA, noting that the protected habitat range of the species would target and potentially impact the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin.

"Governor Abbott has the constitutional authority to secure the border and protect his citizens. He should pay no attention to Biden's shell game," Arrington said.

The administration's policies have lured countless migrants to put their lives and safety in the hands of the criminal cartels that run the human smuggling and human trafficking operations, and many have died or subjected to violence along the way," Mehlman told The Foreign Desk.

Related Story: Texas Gov. Abbott Defends Floating Border Wall, Despite Lawsuit

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