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US judge orders Texas to move floating barriers in Rio Grande


A U.S. judge has ordered Texas to relocate floating buoys placed in the middle of the Rio Grande to prevent migrants from illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, a tentative victory for President Joe Biden, whose administration has sued the state in justice.

U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra issued a preliminary injunction to Austin on Wednesday that requires Texas to relocate the buoys, currently near the town of Eagle Pass, to an embankment on the Texas side of the river by 15 september. a legal challenge that the 305-meter barrier unlawfully interferes with navigation and was installed without authorization from the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The move is a setback for Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican who says Biden, a Democrat, has been too soft on border security.

The floating barrier is one of several strategies launched by Abbott to deter migrants, including coils of razor wire placed along the river bank.

“Governor Abbott has announced that he is not ‘seeking clearance’ for Operation Lone Star, the anti-immigration program under which Texas built the floating barrier,” Ezra wrote in a 42-minute order. pages. “Unfortunately for Texas, permission is exactly what federal law requires before erecting obstructions in the country’s navigable waters.”

Texas immediately appealed the ruling to the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Abbott’s office said it was prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court.

“Our battle to uphold the sovereign authority of Texas and protect lives from the chaos wrought by President Biden’s open borders policy has only just begun,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

The US Department of Justice is satisfied with Ezra’s decision, Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a statement.

The Mexican government also issued a statement, saying it remained attentive to the final resolution, reiterating “the urgency to permanently remove the buoys on our common border” and the need to safeguard the human rights of migrants.

Abbott’s border operations came under increased scrutiny in July after the publication of an internal email alleging that Texas authorities had been ordered to push migrant children back into the river and refuse to water to migrants in extreme heat.

A few weeks later, a body was found stuck in the buoys. The Texas Department of Public Safety said the victim appeared to have drifted toward the barrier after drowning.

Ezra, appointed by former Republican President Ronald Reagan, said more than 140 concrete anchors, some weighing 1,361 kilograms, used to secure the buoys could cause serious damage to boats or other vessels.

“Photographs show these gray concrete anchors lying on the river bed, with no markings to identify them as unsafe,” Ezra wrote. “These concrete obstacles present a serious risk to watercraft of any kind.”

The Mexican government sent a diplomatic letter to the United States in June opposing the barrier, saying it violates a water treaty between the two countries and could encroach on Mexican territory.

Ezra said the buoys have “already put tremendous strain on the US-Mexico relationship,” citing those tensions as an example of the harm the barrier could cause if left in place while litigation continues. .