Texas floating barrier: Governor defends Rio Grande buoys in letter to President Biden

Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Monday defending the state's use of marine barriers in the Rio Grande to stop migrants from crossing the river into the U.S. from Mexico.

Last week, the Justice Department told Texas that the floating barrier of buoys near Eagle Pass violates federal law and raises humanitarian concerns for migrants. It also informed the state that the Justice Department intended to sue if the barriers were not removed.

MORE: Justice Department tells Texas that floating barrier on Rio Grande raises humanitarian concerns

Gov. Abbott responded on Monday, writing, "Texas will see you in court, Mr. President."

The governor argues that U.S. Constitution grants Texas sovereign authority to protect its borders and reiterates his assertion that the president violated his "constitutional obligation to 
defend the States against invasion through faithful execution of federal laws."

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"If you truly care about human life, you must begin enforcing federal immigration laws. By doing so, you can help me stop migrants from wagering their lives in the waters of the Rio Grande River. You can also help me save Texans, and indeed all Americans, from deadly drugs like fentanyl, cartel violence, and the horrors of human trafficking," Gov. Abbott’s letter reads.


View of a string of buoys placed on the water along the Rio Grande border with Mexico in Eagle Pass, Texas, on July 15, 2023, to prevent illegal immigration entry to the US. The buoy installation is part of an operation Texas is pursuing to secure it

The buoys are the latest escalation of Abbott’s multibillion-dollar operation to secure the state’s 1,200-mile border with Mexico. Other measures have included razor-wire fencing and arresting migrants on trespassing charges. 

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The mission known as Operation Lone Star came under new scrutiny after a trooper said migrants had been denied water and that orders were given to push asylum-seekers back into the Rio Grande.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said last week that the trooper’s accounts, which were made in an email to a supervisor, are under internal investigation.

The buoy barrier covers 1,000 feet of the middle of the Rio Grande, with anchors in the riverbed.
Eagle Pass is part of a Border Patrol sector that has seen the second-highest number of migrant crossings this fiscal year with about 270,000 encounters — though that is lower than it was at this time last year.

The Biden administration has said illegal border crossings have declined significantly since new immigration rules took effect in May as pandemic-related asylum restrictions expired.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.