US /

Texas' Floating Barrier Staying Put (for Now)

Stay issued in legal challenge of Rio Grande buoys
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2023 7:25 PM CDT
Updated Sep 8, 2023 12:37 AM CDT
Judge Orders Texas to Remove Floating Barrier
A kayaker walks past large buoys being used as a floating border barrier on the Rio Grande, Aug. 1, 2023, in Eagle Pass, Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
UPDATE Sep 8, 2023 12:37 AM CDT

Texas' floating barrier isn't going anywhere, at least for now. A federal appeals court on Thursday put on hold the Wednesday ruling from a lower court that ordered the state to remove it by next week. The stay allows the barrier to stay put while the legal challenge continues, the AP reports. In seeking a swift order to allow the buoys to remain, Texas told the appeals court the buoys reroute migrants to ports of entry and that "no injury from them has been reported." Last month, a body was found near the buoys, but Texas officials said preliminary information indicated the person drowned before coming near the barriers.

Sep 6, 2023 7:25 PM CDT

The floating barrier Texas has placed in the middle of the Rio Grande to deter migrants violates provisions of a treaty between the US and Mexico, and there's no sign it's even effective, a federal judge said Wednesday. US District Judge David Alan Ezra ordered the state to remove the buoys by Sept. 15, the Hill reports. "The State of Texas did not present any credible evidence that the buoy barrier as installed has significantly curtailed illegal immigration across the Rio Grande River," Ezra said, per the AP. The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the federal government after Texas installed the barriers in July.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott "announced that he was not 'asking for permission' for Operation Lone Star, the anti-immigration program under which Texas constructed the floating barrier," the judge wrote. "Unfortunately for Texas, permission is exactly what federal law requires before installing obstructions in the nation's navigable waters." Ezra, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan, also noted that more than 140 concrete anchors used to secure the buoys "present a serious risk to watercraft of any kind," reports Reuters.

story continues below

Last month, Mexican officials said two bodies had been found along the barrier. A topographical survey submitted as part of the federal lawsuit found that 80% of the barrier is in Mexican waters. Texas appealed Ezra's Wednesday ruling to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, and Abbott's office said the governor is ready to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. (More Texas stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.