Judge Orders Texas to Move Border Buoys

Migrants seeking asylum
Migrants seeking asylum rest on an island while attempting to cross the Rio Grande river into the United States on July 18, 2023 in Eagle Pass, Texas. | Image by Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A federal judge in Austin ruled Wednesday that Texas must move the floating marine barriers the state placed in the Rio Grande, which were intended to curb unlawful border crossings.

The decision by U.S. District Judge David Ezra was a response to a legal challenge from the Biden administration, which argued the buoys created humanitarian and environmental concerns and impeded the ability of federal agents to patrol the border.

In its closing arguments, the federal government had claimed that allowing the buoys to remain in the river would cause “irreparable harm to the United States,” as reported by The Dallas Express.

Ezra stopped short of requiring the barriers to be completely eliminated, issuing a preliminary injunction that instead stipulated the buoys must be moved to the riverbank by September 15.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appealed the decision Wednesday and issued a statement slamming the decision.

“Today’s court decision merely prolongs President Biden’s willful refusal to acknowledge that Texas is rightfully stepping up to do the job that he should have been doing all along,” Abbott said.

“This ruling is incorrect and will be overturned on appeal. We will continue to utilize every strategy to secure the border, including deploying Texas National Guard soldiers and Department of Public Safety troopers and installing strategic barriers.”

“Our battle to defend Texas’ sovereign authority to protect lives from the chaos caused by President Biden’s open border policies has only begun. Texas is prepared to take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Abbott said.

Abbott deployed dozens of the bright orange buoys in July in an area roughly the length of three soccer fields, according to the Associated Press.

The buoys are part of a larger plan by Abbott to counter unlawful immigration, an issue which he said the Biden administration has failed to take action on. Known as Operation Lone Star, the plan also includes steel fencing and razor wires.

Former President Trump reportedly considered setting up similar barriers in the Rio Grande in the final months of his administration.

In August, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador criticized the buoys as “inhumane” after two bodies were found near the barriers.

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