A federal judge has ruled that Texas must remove a 1,000-foot floating barrier in the Rio Grande by September 15. This barrier, part of Operation Lone Star aimed at deterring illegal immigration, was installed in July. However, it immediately faced backlash from both Mexico and the Biden administration, which sued Texas, arguing that the federal government has sole jurisdiction over the Rio Grande.
Judge David A. Ezra, a Reagan appointee, issued a 42-page ruling, determining that the barrier violates the federal Rivers and Harbors Act by creating an obstruction in the river, making navigation impossible. Texas, on the other hand, argued that the barrier did not hinder navigation in that part of the Rio Grande.
Texas also defended the barrier as an essential enforcement tool to block migrants and the smuggling of drugs like fentanyl into the state. They claimed that the Biden administration’s immigration policies had failed to achieve this goal. However, a recent Wall Street Journal report suggested that migrants were not deterred by the barrier and simply found ways to bypass it by wading through the river. Additionally, federal law-enforcement officials noted that fentanyl was rarely smuggled into the U.S. by individuals crossing the border illegally, as it mostly entered through legal ports of entry by U.S. citizens or visitors with visas.
Texas presented a more controversial argument, suggesting that the U.S. Constitution allowed states to defend their sovereignty in the event of a “foreign invasion.” Judge Ezra rejected this argument, stating that determining the legitimacy of Texas’ claim of an “invasion” was a political question beyond the court’s scope.
In response to the ruling, Governor Greg Abbott announced an appeal to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, emphasizing that Texas would continue its efforts to secure the border. He criticized President Biden’s immigration policies and expressed determination to protect Texas’ sovereignty, vowing to take the legal battle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.