Houston: A federal judge has ruled that the state of Texas must remove floating barriers it set up to deter migrants from crossing the US-Mexico border in heavily trafficked areas of the Rio Grande river.
“Unfortunately for Texas, permission is exactly what federal law requires before installing obstructions in the nation’s navigable waters,” Federal District Judge David A. Ezra wrote in his order on Wednesday, issuing a preliminary injunction to remove these barriers and stop building further obstructions in the river.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office immediately appealed Ezra’s ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, claiming that the state “is prepared to take this fight all the way to the US Supreme Court”.
“Today’s court decision merely prolongs President Biden’s willful refusal to acknowledge that Texas is rightfully stepping up to do the job that he should have been doing all along,” the Governor’s office said in a statement.
In the wake of the end of Title 42 in May, Abbott ordered the deployment of the 1,000-foot string of buoys in the middle of the border river next to Eagle Pass, western Texas, which shares the border with the Mexican city of Piedras Negras.
President Joe Biden’s administration filed a lawsuit against Texas in July, alleging that thr Republican-led state and its Governor violated the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act by building a structure in American waters without permission from the US Army Corps of Engineers.
The state argued that the barrier isn’t a structure that requires authorisation, and that it notified the International Boundary Water Commission, the binational body that regulates the Rio Grande, before the installlation.
The Mexican government has repreatedly condemned the establishment of water barriers in the Rio Grande, calling the Texas move a “violation of our sovereignty”.
“We express our concern about the impact on the human rights and personal safety of migrants that these state policies will have, which go in the opposite direction to the close collaboration between our country and the federal government of the US,” the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.