Federal judge orders Texas to remove floating barriers aimed at preventing migrants from crossing Rio Grande

Eric K/AP

Migrants walk past large buoys used as a floating border barrier on the Rio Grande in July near Eagle Pass, Texas.


A federal judge ordered Texas Remove floating obstructions in the Rio Grande Marking a victory for the Biden administration, a court filing Wednesday barred the state from placing new or additional floats in the river.

The judge ordered Texas to remove the sanctions at its own expense by September 15.

In July, the Justice Department sued the state of Texas over its use of floating barriers on the Rio Grande, which Greg Abbott argued were intended to keep migrants from entering the state from Mexico.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, accuses the Justice Department, Texas and Republican Abbott of violating the Rivers and Harbors Appropriations Act and building a structure in U.S. waters without permission from the U.S. military. Engineers and the injunction demanded the construction of additional dams on the Texas River.

Judge David Alan Ezra wrote that the law required Abbott’s permission to install the bans.

“Governor Abbott announced that he ‘did not seek permission’ for Operation Lone Star, the anti-immigration program that led to the construction of the Texas floating barrier. Unfortunately for Texas, federal law requires permission before installing barriers in the nation’s navigable waters,” the judge wrote in his ruling.

Ezra also found Texas’s defensive argument — that sanctions had been put in place in the face of invasion — “not convincing.”

“This argument fails because (1) the RHA has already balanced the policy interests and determined that the nation’s interest in the free navigation of its waterways trumps unauthorized governmental action, and (2) whether Texas’s claim of ‘invasion’ is justified or not is a legitimate political question, demonstrably committed to the federal political branches. ,” he wrote.

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CNN has reached out to the DOJ and the state of Texas for comment.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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