Texas has moved a floating barrier closer to the U.S.-Mexico border as the Biden administration and Mexico protest the wrecking ball-sized buoys that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott authorized to prevent migrants from entering the country. The relocation occurs prior to a Tuesday hearing that could determine the beacons’ continued existence. Texas began installing the conspicuous orange buoys on the Rio Grande in July, prompting the Justice Department to sue the state on the grounds that the barrier could negatively impact relations with Mexico and pose human and environmental risks.
Abbott stated that the barrier was moved “out of an abundance of caution” in response to allegations that the buoys had migrated to the Mexican side of the river during a Monday visit to the border city of Eagle Pass, where they are located. Abbott stated, “I do not know whether they were true or not.” It is unclear when Austin-based U.S. District Judge David Ezra will adjudicate on the barrier.
Legal Challenges Persist for Abbott’s Border Operation Lone Star
In the interim, Abbott’s expansive border mission known as Operation Lone Star continues to confront multiple legal challenges, including a new one filed on Monday by four migrants who were arrested by Texas authorities after crossing the border. The four men, including a father and son, are among the thousands of migrants apprehended in Texas for state trespassing since 2021. The majority have either had their cases dismissed or pleaded guilty in exchange for time already served. According to the lawsuit filed by the Texas ACLU and the Texas Fair Defense Project, however, the four men remained in a Texas prison for two to six weeks after they were supposed to be released.
The lawsuit alleges that instead of the Texas sheriff’s office permitting the jails to release the men, they were transported to federal immigration facilities and then sent to Mexico. David Donatti, an attorney for the Texas ACLU, stated, “I believe a difficult-to-grasp aspect of all of this is that because they’re building the system as they go, problems arise in various ways.” Representatives of Kinney and Val Verde County, which are named in the lawsuit and have partnered with Abbott’s enterprise, did not immediately respond to Monday’s email requests for comment. In addition, the complaint alleges that at least 80 others were detained for longer than permitted by state law between late September 2021 and January 2022.
Abbott was joined at the border on Monday by the Republican governors of Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and South Dakota, who have all dispatched their own armed law enforcement and National Guard personnel.