A judge ordered Texas to remove by Sept. 15 the floating border buoys it had placed on its river border with Mexico to deter migrants from crossing, Politico reports. U.S. District Judge David Ezra ruled that the buoys obstructed the flow of the Rio Grande River, which separates the U.S. from Mexico, and likely required congressional authorization and a federal permit, as dictated by the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1899. “The Court finds that the barrier’s threat to human life, its impairment to free and safe navigation, and its contraindication to the balance of priorities Congress struck in the RHA outweigh Texas’s interest in implementing its buoy barrier in the Rio Grande River,” Ezra wrote granting the Biden administration’s request for a preliminary injunction against the string of buoys Texas officials installed. The floating barrier is made up of roughly 1,000 feet of spherical buoys connected by heavy metal cables Roughly half of the barrier also contains an “anti-dive net” below it. The placement of the buoys was opposed by the state’s congressional Democrats and human rights advocates, who maintained that they presented life-threatening risks to migrants who were crossing the river to seek asylum. The Mexican government also criticized the buoys, saying that they violated international water rights. The Justice Department praised the judge’s decision. “We are pleased that the court ruled that the barrier was unlawful and irreparably harms diplomatic relations, public safety, navigation, and the operations of federal agency officials in and around the Rio Grande,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has challenged the federal government’s jurisdiction over immigration for over two years. Texas has arrested migrants under state trespassing charges and used state resources, like the buoys, to enforce controls in response to what Abbott contends is a dereliction of duty from the Biden administration to secure the southern border.
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