Justice Department Sues Texas Over Barriers in Rio Grande

Abbott rebuffs warning and publicly welcomes legal showdown
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2023 5:45 PM CDT
Justice Department Sues Texas Over Barriers in Rio Grande
A Texas state trooper watches as young migrants walk along concertina wire on the banks of the Rio Grande as they try to enter the US from Mexico in Eagle Pass, Texas, on July 6.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The Justice Department followed through on its threat to sue Texas on Monday, seeking to force the state to take out the floating barriers it has placed in the middle of the Rio Grande to deter border crossings. The obstacles are a danger to migrants and Border Patrol agents, the federal government says. The lawsuit, which was filed in the federal district court in Austin, says that US law prohibits installing structures in navigable waterways without the federal government's permission, CBS News reports. It asks the court to compel Texas to remove the buoys and and not add any in the future.

Refusing to comply, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to President Biden saying that Texas "will fully utilize its constitutional authority to deal with the crisis you have caused," per CNN. White House officials responded Monday, calling Abbott's actions illegal and dangerous. "The one person that is sowing chaos is Governor Abbott," said press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. "That's where he continues to do political stunts in an inhumane way." The river installation is part of Texas' multibillion-dollar program, called Operation Lone Star, under which the state has put razor wire on the banks of the Rio Grande, charged adult migrants with trespassing, and taken more than 27,000 migrants to northern cities. (Read more border crossing stories.)

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