Judge Orders Texas To Remove Floating Border Barriers

Floating border buoys Texas installed along its river border with Mexico to dissuade migrants have been ordered removed by a federal court by September 15.

U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra concluded that the buoys likely needed congressional authority and a federal permit as mandated by the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1899 because they impeded the flow of the Rio Grande River, which divides the U.S. and Mexico.

A Reagan appointee, Ezra penned the ruling allowing the Biden White House to receive an injunction against the floating buoys.

The court judgment describes the floating barrier, built to prevent transportation across the river, consisting of around 1,000 feet of 4-foot spherical buoys linked by solid metal wires. An “anti-dive net” is installed underneath around half of the barrier.

Democrats in the state legislature and human rights activists had protested the buoys’ installation, claiming that they posed a direct and immediate danger to the lives of asylum seekers trying to cross the river. A corpse was discovered in the buoys by Texas state troopers in early August. International water rights were also cited for Mexico’s opposition to the buoys.

On Wednesday, Texas’ legal team quickly appealed Ezra’s decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Abbott has been fighting the federal government’s immigration authority for over two years with a massive state-led initiative called Operation Lone Star. In response to what Abbott sees as a failure by the Biden administration to protect the southern border, Texas has detained migrants on trespassing charges and utilized state resources, like the buoys at issue, to enforce rules.

Ezra was approved as a federal judge in Hawaii in 1988, but due to vacancies on the federal court in Austin, the Texas capital, he has been considering cases there for more than a decade.