The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered Texas to remove its border buoys from the Rio Grande, marking another legal setback for Governor Greg Abbott in the ongoing border policy clash with the Biden administration.
In a 2-1 decision, the conservative appeals court upheld a preliminary injunction issued by a lower court in September. The appeals court had previously stayed the injunction while reviewing the case.
Amid escalating migrant crossings, the border buoys have been a contentious issue between the Biden administration and Governor Abbott, who implemented the measure as part of his border security initiative to deter migrants.
The Justice Department, in its lawsuit filed in July, contended that the buoys were installed unlawfully, emphasizing that any construction in US water required permission from the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Abbott argued that Texas had the constitutional authority to install the buoys, citing them as a necessary self-defense measure.
In Friday’s order, the 5th Circuit determined that the lower court had not abused its discretion in issuing the preliminary injunction. The court considered the potential threats to navigation, federal government operations on the Rio Grande, and the risk to human life posed by the barriers.
Circuit Judge Don Willett dissented, asserting that the lower court had erred in issuing the injunction. He argued that the segment of the Rio Grande where the buoys were installed was not navigable, making the administration’s case less likely to succeed.
Following the decision, Abbott expressed his intent to seek an immediate rehearing and suggested the possibility of taking the case to the Supreme Court to protect Texas from what he referred to as “Biden’s open borders.”
This ruling comes on the heels of another legal defeat for Texas in its border dispute with the Biden administration. On Thursday, a federal judge ruled in favor of the federal government after Texas sought to compel border patrol agents to stop cutting razor wire installed by the state. Texas alleged that federal agents were destroying state property to enable migrants to enter the US. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has appealed the order.