May 27, 2024

DOJ Asks Judge To Order Texas To Take Down Razor Wire-Covered Buoys In Rio Grande

The Justice Department asked a federal judge on Wednesday to order Texas to remove razor wire-covered barriers in the Rio Grande amid concerns they could harm or kill migrants seeking asylum in the United States.

Texas began deploying the floating barrier along miles of the river near Eagle Pass earlier this month, part of a multibillion-dollar effort to deter migrants. The initiative has sparked fierce condemnation from Democrats and human rights groups, who have called the barricades inhumane “death traps.”

The Biden administration asked the court to order their removal within 10 days, arguing the barriers had significantly harmed the nation’s relationship with Mexico and had been built without necessary approvals.

“Texas’s deployment of the floating barrier has caused significant and ongoing harm to the United States’ foreign relations with Mexico,” the DOJ wrote, adding Mexico had “specifically asserted that Texas’s actions contravene various treaty obligations and has raised humanitarian concerns regarding possible loss of life.”

“Allowing the floating barrier to remain in place while the parties litigate this case would further compound this harm,” the Justice Department added.

Migrants cross the Rio Grande from Mexico near the site where large buoys are being deployed to be used as a border barrier in Eagle Pass, Texas, on July 12, 2023.

The Biden administration has also asked for an injunction that would bar Texas from deploying other river barriers without approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The San Antonio Express-News reported this month a trooper working along the southern border emailed his superior expressing grave concerns about the barricades. The officer detailed multiple incidents where migrants were seriously injured or trapped by the razor wire, adding border officials had been ordered at times to deny water to asylum seekers.

The filing comes just days after the Biden administration sued the state and its Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, alleging Texas didn’t secure proper approval to build the barriers. The Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday that Mexico had appealed to U.S. officials about the barrier, but by the time the Army Corps of Engineers found out about the effort, hundreds of buoys had already been deployed.

Abbott has so far rejected any calls to take down the floating structures, saying he had the right to erect them amid an “unprecedented crisis of illegal immigration.”

“Texas will see you in court, Mr. President,” the governor wrote in a letter to Biden. “The fact is, if you would just enforce the immigration laws Congress already has on the books, America would not be suffering from your record-breaking level of illegal immigration.”

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