The Justice Department has filed a request asking a federal judge to order Governor Greg Abbott to remove a floating barrier that Texas placed in the Rio Grande River. This move comes as the department filed a civil suit against Abbott, alleging a violation of federal law due to the unauthorized installation of the barrier.
In their 25-page filing, federal prosecutors argued for a preliminary injunction to prevent irreparable harm to foreign relations, public safety, and navigation. They emphasized that the barrier could pose risks to health and public safety by obstructing travel across the river.
The case centers on the “straightforward violation” of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which prohibits unauthorized obstructions to the navigable capacity of the nation’s waters. However, Abbott has contested the applicability of this law to Texas’ actions.
The Justice Department also pointed out that the river is used by various federal agencies and blocking it could have adverse effects on U.S.-Mexico relations, with Mexico expressing humanitarian concerns about potential risks to individuals swimming in the Rio Grande.
The governor’s office has indicated that Texas will vigorously defend its actions, asserting its constitutional authority to protect its border. Abbott previously announced the deployment of floating barriers to deter migrant crossings, citing the need to secure the state’s borders amid disagreements with the Biden administration over immigration policy.
As the legal battle unfolds, the Justice Department seeks prompt action to address the barrier while the lawsuit is litigated.