Greg Abbott

DOJ files injunction in Texas buoy case, asks judge to order them removed

DOJ asks a judge to order Texas to remove existing buoys within 10 days of the court's order

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Attorneys with the Department of Justice filed a preliminary injunction Wednesday in their case against Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and the state of Texas over a string of buoys installed in the Rio Grande.

The DOJ is asking a judge to order the governor to remove all floating barriers installed in the river until a lawsuit filed earlier this week is decided in court. Federal prosecutors said the buoys are a straightforward violation of the Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA) because the river is an international boundary and the floating barrier was installed without federal approval.

In early July, the Texas Department of Public Safety placed floating barriers in the Rio Grande as part of Operation Lone Star, Abbott's effort to secure the Texas-Mexico border and stop people from crossing illegally. The water barrier is a series of orange wrecking-ball-sized buoys stretching just more than 1,000 feet near Eagle Pass.

Last week, the DOJ warned they'd file a lawsuit against Abbott and the state if the barriers weren't removed. When the deadline passed, the lawsuit was filed and the governor responded, “Texas will see you in court, Mr. President."

Aside from being a violation of the RHA, the federal government claims the barrier has done irreparable harm to the relationship between the United States and Mexico and that the relationship would be further strained if more floating barriers are installed in the river or if the current ones are allowed to stay.

In the filing, the DOJ asserts Mexico has “raised its concerns at the highest diplomatic levels” regarding Texas’s deployment of the floating barrier and that Mexico has specifically asserted that Texas’s actions contravene various treaty obligations and has raised humanitarian concerns regarding [the] possible loss of life to persons swimming in the Rio Grande. The filing warns any such loss of life could “quickly give rise to a significant international incident.”

The DOJ is asking a judge to block the state from installing more marine barriers without federal authorization and to remove the existing ones within 10 days of the court's order.

"Allowing the floating barrier to remain in place while the parties litigate this case would further compound this harm," the DOJ said.

Defending the installation of the barrier, Abbott has said Texas has the sovereign authority to secure the border with Mexico and blames President Biden for creating a humanitarian disaster.

"If President Biden truly cared about human life, he would enforce federal immigration laws," Abbott wrote on X, the platform previously known as Twitter. "In the meantime, Texas will fully utilize its sovereign authority to respond to the border crisis Biden created."

A decision on the injunction has not yet been made.

On Wednesday afternoon, a spokesperson for the governor's office released the following statement.

"We will fight this case all the way to the United States Supreme Court to protect Texas' constitutional authority to deny illegal entry into our state."


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