Appeals court orders Texas to remove buoy barrier on the Rio Grande border

A federal appeals court on Friday ordered Texas to remove a floating barrier from the Rio Grande placed there under the direction of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to deter illegal migrant crossings.

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a lower court’s finding that the buoys were illegal.

“The district court’s factual findings were not clearly erroneous,” the opinion states.

Abbott’s office and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The governor has previously said that Texas was prepared to take this fight “all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The court’s decision comes amid a lengthy battle between Abbott and the Biden administration over a floating 1,000-foot barrier near Eagle Pass.

The appeals court had temporarily put on hold a judge’s order in September requiring Abbott to remove the barrier from the middle of the Rio Grande after finding that it posed a threat to human life, and that “impairment to free and safe navigation” outweighed the state’s interest in installing the buoys.

In a civil lawsuit this year, the Justice Department said that Abbott violated a federal law which prohibits creating any obstruction to the navigable capacity of the country’s waters without authorization when he ordered the installation of the barrier.

Attorneys for Texas had argued that the U.S. Constitution afforded the state the power to “repel invasions,” including the illegal entry of thousands of migrants.

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