Last week, top Justice Department lawyers informed Abbott and other Texas officials that the administration would file a lawsuit against the state unless it removed the barriers it deployed in the middle of the Rio Grande. The Biden administration argued the river barriers violate a federal navigable waters law, pose humanitarian challenges and impede federal law enforcement from apprehending migrants.
But in a letter to President Biden and other top administration officials on Monday, Abbott, a Republican, appeared to welcome a legal battle, arguing that Texas was using its “constitutional authority” to combat unauthorized border crossings.
A Texas trooper recently made alarming allegations about the state operation, detailing reports of migrants, including children and a pregnant woman, being cut by the razor wire and directives to withhold water from migrants and to push them into the Rio Grande. Texas officials are investigating the allegations, but have denied the existence of orders to deny migrants water or to push them into the river.
The state trooper also urged superior officers to remove the floating barriers, saying the structures force migrants to cross into the U.S. through parts of the Rio Grande where they are more likely to drown.