DOJ will sue Governor Abbott over the buoy barrier in the Rio Grande River

Townhall Media/Julio Rosas

When last we left the buoy barrier across the Rio Grande River kerfuffle, Texas Democrats were demanding that the DOJ investigate the legality of Governor Abbott’s action. One small business owner had already filed a lawsuit, claiming his kayak business would suffer because of the barrier in the river. Mexican officials have registered complaints against the buoy barrier, claiming it violates treaties between the United States and Mexico.


Allegedly a DPS trooper turned whistleblower to leak an internal memo to a superior, who then turned the memo over to a reporter with the Houston Chronicle. The memo alleges that troopers are being told to shove women and children back into the river instead of allowing them to cross illegally. I called b.s. on the truthfulness of the alleged instructions because I have seen too many videos of DPS troopers and Border Patrol agents pulling illegal immigrants out of the river, saving them from drowning or serious injury. Because the leaked memo accuses DPS of encouraging inhumane behavior, DOJ had the perfect excuse to investigate the buoy barrier situation in the Eagle Pass, Texas area.

Sure enough, DOJ notified Governor Abbott that the buoy barrier system put up through the Rio Grande River is in violation of federal law. DOJ is ready to sue Governor Abbott. It sent a letter to the governor Thursday letting him know.

“The State of Texas’s actions violate federal law, raise humanitarian concerns, present serious risks to public safety and the environment, and may interfere with the federal government’s ability to carry out its official duties,” the department wrote, according to a copy obtained by Hearst Newspapers.

Assistant Attorney General Todd Kimm and Jaime Esparza, United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas, go on to write that the wall of buoys violates the Rivers and Harbors Act, which prohibits the creation of any obstruction to the navigable capacity of waters of the United States. They further point out that Texas did not seek authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deploy the barrier, which is required by the law.

“This floating barrier poses a risk to navigation, as well as public safety, in the Rio Grande River, and it presents humanitarian concerns. Thus, we intend to seek appropriate legal remedies, which may include seeking injunctive relief requiring the removal of obstructions or other structures in the Rio Grande River,” the letter states.


Abbott put up the 1,000-foot buoy barrier in the river near Eagle Pass this month because it is a deterrent to illegal immigrants crossing the river. Eagle Pass is a small city that is overwhelmed by the constant activity. The buoys are bright orange, about 4 feet in diameter, and they spin when people try to climb them. There is mesh netting underneath them to prevent people from swimming underneath them.

Governor Abbott responded to the DOJ and Biden Friday. See you in court.

“Texas has the sovereign authority to defend our border, under the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution,” Abbott declared on Twitter. “We will continue to deploy every strategy to protect Texans and Americans — and the migrants risking their lives. We will see you in court, Mr. President.”

No surprise there. Abbott already said he would take the case all the way up to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Texas is doing what the federal government will not do.

The letter from DOJ issued a deadline of Monday at 2:00 p.m. to “commit to expeditiously remove the floating barrier.”

If the state fails to comply, “the United States intends to file legal action in relation to the State of Texas’s unlawful construction of a floating barrier in the Rio Grande River.” Such action may include seeking a court order “requiring the removal of obstructions or other structures in the Rio Grande River.”

Stay tuned. It’s safe to say that Governor Abbott isn’t going to meet DOJ’s deadline on Monday.


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