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The Department of Justice sued Texas and its Republican governor Monday over their attempt to do what the Biden administration appears unwilling to do: end the flood of illegal aliens into the United States by any and all practical means.
The Biden DOJ claims the marine floating barriers state officials have installed in the Rio Grande are unauthorized and in violation of federal law.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has indicated he's willing to take this fight to the Supreme Court, telling President Joe Biden in a letter Monday, "Texas will see you in court, Mr. President."
What's the background?
TheBlaze reported in early June that as part of Operation Lone Star, Texas had committed to installing marine floating barriers in the Rio Grande to discourage migrants from fording the river and entering the homeland.
The 1,000-foot barrier is made up of interconnected inflatable sphere buoys four feet wide that can be shifted and extended. When grabbed, the buoys spin, thereby preventing individuals from climbing over.
Abbott indicated in a statement that the Texas Department of Public Safety oversaw the installation in Eagle Pass, starting July 7.
According to Texas DPS director Steve McCraw, the new floating barrier cost the state $1 million.
Eagle Pass was selected because it is reportedly a heavily trafficked entryway for illegal aliens.
U.S Customs and Border Protection indicated that 144,571 illegal aliens crossed the southern border into the U.S. last month alone. So far this fiscal year, well over 1.7 million have done likewise.
Keeping the border open
Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim with the DOJ's environment and natural resources division filed the lawsuit Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
The suit claims that the barrier obstructs navigable American waters in violation of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and that such structures placed in the Rio Grande require approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which Texas is said never to have received.
The DOJ wants Texas officials to remove the barrier at the state's expense.
"We allege that Texas has flouted federal law by installing a barrier in the Rio Grande without obtaining the required federal authorization," Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a statement. "This floating barrier poses threats to navigation and public safety and presents humanitarian concerns. Additionally, the presence of the floating barrier has prompted diplomatic protests by Mexico and risks damaging U.S. foreign policy."
U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza of the Western District of Texas claimed that "laws and policies in place – both domestic and international ... cannot be ignored."
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott refuses to comply with the Biden administration's demands and selective application of federal law.
Abbott, who contends that the barrier may already have repelled "tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands" of people illegally crossing the border, told Biden in his Monday letter that by installing the marine wall, he had asserted Texas' "sovereign interest in protecting [her] borders."
Further, the governor noted that he was within his rights, under both the state's and the U.S. constitutions, to secure the border through the use of floating marine barriers in the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass.
Contrary to the DOJ's claim that Texas' floating barriers violate Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, Abbott noted that in the same statute, "Congress decreed that 'it shall not be lawful to build . . . any wharf, pier, dolphin, boom, weir, breakwater, bulkhead, jetty or other structures in any . . . water of the United States.' 33 U.S.C. § 403. To state the obvious, that statute does not describe any action by the State of Texas."
Abbott reiterated an earlier accusation he directed at the Democratic president: "All of this is happening because you have violated your constitutional obligation to defend the States against invasion through faithful execution of federal laws."
The Republican governor also suggested that the DOJ's humanitarian concerns should be directed to Biden, whose "open-border policies encourage migrants to risk their lives by crossing illegally through the water, instead of safely and legally at a port of entry. Nobody drowns on a bridge," adding that illegal aliens were drowning in the Rio Grande River long before Texas attempted to shore up its territorial sovereignty.
"If you truly care about human life, you must begin enforcing federal immigration laws. By doing so, you can help me stop migrants from wagering their lives in the waters of the Rio Grande River," wrote Abbott. "You can also help me save Texans, and indeed all Americans, from deadly drugs like fentanyl, cartel violence, and the horrors of human trafficking."
Politico reported that Vice President Kamala Harris, who was once tasked to do something about the border crisis, blasted Abbott Monday, suggesting his efforts to bolster American territorial sovereignty were "inhumane, outrageous and un-American."
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, "Instead of coming to the table and trying to figure out a way to work together, [Abbott] continues to do this really cruel, unjust, inhumane ways of moving forward with a system that has been broken for decades."
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Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.