Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said he will not remove the buoy barrier installed on the Rio Grande River.
The U.S. Justice Department reported Monday that it sued the state of Texas for using floating barriers on the Rio Grande River to contain immigration at the border with Mexico.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Austin, Texas, alleges that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott violated the Rivers and Harbors Appropriations Act by building a structure without obtaining the required federal authorization.
It also alleges that the barriers threaten navigation and public safety and pose humanitarian concerns. The Justice Department is asking the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Texas to force the state to remove the existing marine barriers and stop building more in the border river that divides Mexico and the U.S.
"The Rivers and Harbors Act is clear in prohibiting the placement of unauthorized barriers or obstructions on the Rio Grande and other navigable waters of the United States," Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim said in a statement.
U.S. President Joe Biden administration sues Texas over floating border barriers deployed in the middle of the Rio Grande.— Michael Hoss ❤️���� (@Michael0Hoss) July 24, 2023
The White House is seeking to force Texas to remove the barriers that federal officials argue have endangered migrants and Border Patrol agents. pic.twitter.com/vUEid4zZzD
Gov. Abbott has said he will not order the removal of the buoy barrier installed on the stretch separating the cities of Eagle Pass, Texas, and Piedras Negras, Coahuila.
Abbott said in a letter sent to President Joe Biden in response to the Justice Department's request that he stand up for Texas' right to border security, which the Biden administration has ignored. "Texas will see you in court, Mr. President," the governor said.
The Mexican government has said the measure violates Article 17 of the 1944 International Waters Treaty, which states that "the use of the channel of international rivers for the discharge of flood or other surplus waters shall be free."
For his part, Mexico's ambassador to the U.S., Esteban Moctezuma, said recently that his country is reviewing the implications of the placement of wire and barbed wire buoys on the Rio Grande under the U.S.-Mexico Water Treaty. The country is also reviewing its impact on the safety of migrants "so that Mexico can make the corresponding demands," Moctezuma said.