Texas Wins Appeal to Keep Floating Barriers

(RightWing.org) – The state of Texas is on the front lines trying to deal with the flood of illegal aliens pouring over the Mexican border. Because of President Joe Biden’s administration’s “policies that refuse to secure the border and invite illegal immigration” as Governor Greg Abbott put it, Operation Lone Star was put in place in March 2021 so that Texas could protect their own borders. On June 8, 2023, the governor’s office put out a press release describing a series of bills he would be signing into legislation, along with plans to erect a physical barricade in the Rio Grande River.

Those plans were challenged in court with initial rulings not going Abbott’s way. Now an appeals court has weighed in on the matter.

Operation Lone Star Barrier Taken to Court

Approximately 1,000 feet of large orange balls have been strung together on a cable and anchored to the riverbed near the city of Eagle Pass to deter drug smuggling and human trafficking. The Biden administration filed a lawsuit in the federal court for the Western District of Texas, claiming that by building it the state violated several federal statutes.

According to the complaint filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), this section of the Rio Grande is considered a navigable waterway and therefore falls under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers, under the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1899. They contend that building this floating barricade would require the legally appointed authority to grant a permit.

The DOJ requested a preliminary injunction that would prevent Texas from expanding its blockade that bars the way of illegal aliens and Mexican cartels from moving their cargoes of drugs such as fentanyl and human beings into the United States. On September 6, the judge hearing the case granted their request saying the defendants are “hereby prohibited from building new or placing additional buoys, blockades, or structures of any kind in the Rio Grande River.”

The injunction also directed Texas to relocate the barrier from its current location and place it along the riverbank on their side of the river by September 15. Because of the time constraints given by the judge in the order, the state filed an emergency petition with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals asking for a stay of the decree.

Appeals Court Rules

In their request for a stay, the Texas Attorney General argues that the District Court erred when it agreed that the Army Corps of Engineers had jurisdiction because this stretch of the river is in fact not navigable. They also contend that the court overstepped its authority when it inappropriately favored “a contrived injury to U.S.-Mexico relations” over the harm done by drug smugglers and human traffickers.

In a one-page decision, the three-judge panel of the appellate court sided with Texas and prevented the lower court decision from taking effect.

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