Federal Judge Orders Texas to Remove Their Death Buoys

U.S. District Judge David Ezra, a Reagan appointee, ordered Texas Gov. Greg Abbott  (A-Butt) to remove a floating barrier his state placed in the Rio Grande River to deter illegal migrant crossings, a tentative win for President Joe Biden, whose administration sued the state.. The buoys, equipped with razor wire, “poses risks to health and public safety.”  Texas must remove the buoys by September 15, 2020.

In the forty-two page ruling, Judge Ezra ordered:

  1. Defendants and anyone working on their behalf are enjoined and hereby prohibited from building new or placing additional buoys, blockades, or structures of any kind in the Rio Grande River pending final judgement in this matter.
  2. Defendants shall, by September 15, 2023, reposition, at Defendants’ expense, and in coordination with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, all buoys, anchors, and other related materials and other related materials composing the floating barrier placed by Texas in the Rio Grande in the vicinity of Eagle Pass, Texas to the bank of the Rio Grande on the Texas side of the river.
  3. Absent modification by the Court, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, or the Supreme Court, this Order preliminarily enjoining the above activities shall remain in effect until a final judgment on the merits is entered in this matter.

The Justice Department lauded the ruling; A-Butt vows to appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Court finds that the barrier’s threat to human life, its impairment to free and safe navigation, and its contraindication to the balance of priorities Congress struck in the RHA outweigh Texas’s interest in implementing its buoy barrier in the Rio Grande River. The harm to navigation is clearly evident from the evidence presented, while 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. Thus, for the many reasons listed herein, the balance of hardships tips clearly in favor of the United States. The Court also finds that enforcing the RHA is in the public interest, given the impact of the floating barrier on navigation, health, and safety.

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