Texas Governor Greg Abbott has defied a request from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to remove floating buoy barriers from the Rio Grande River. In response to the request, Governor Abbott penned a letter to President Joe Biden, asserting that he will not order the removal of the river obstructions.
Shortly after Abbott’s response was made public, the DOJ initiated legal action by filing a lawsuit. They requested that a federal court in Austin compel state officials to dismantle the buoys and prevent any future establishment of similar structures.
The situation escalated when the Biden administration announced its intention to file a lawsuit against Texas over the placement of the barriers in the border river. The DOJ set a deadline of Monday for Texas to commit to a removal plan before pursuing legal action.
Texas’ recent installation of the buoys has reignited criticism from Washington surrounding the state’s independent border initiative, dubbed Operation Lone Star. Under this plan, Governor Abbott has been transporting illegal migrants to out of state ‘sanctuary cities’, employing Texas National Guard members to patrol the border, requiring the State Police to detain migrants, and constructing additional hard obstacles along the border with Mexico.
The governor has repeatedly defended his decisions to unilaterally secure the border by citing his authority to protect his state under the Texas Constitution. However, the White House condemned Abbott’s actions as “dangerous and unlawful.”
The basis for the DOJ’s legal action lies in the Rivers and Harbors Act, which prohibits the creation of obstructions to the navigable capacity of U.S. waters, and building structures in such waters without permission from the United States Army Corps of Engineers.