Border /

Federal Court Rules in Favor of Texas' Floating Barrier

The Biden administration has called the barrier inhumane while Texas maintains it prevents illegal immigration and drug trafficking

Federal Court Rules in Favor of Texas' Floating Barrier

Texas can keep the floating barrier it constructed in the Rio Grande to deter illegal immigrants from swimming across the border following the latest court ruling.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a previous decision ruling the state government must remove the barrier while in session on Jan. 17. The Biden administration fought to prevent the Texas government from maintaining the barrier amid record-high rates of illegal immigration. 

The barrier is made of multiple buoys – each four to six feet in diameter and anchored with concrete – strung along over 1,000 feet of the waterway separating Texas from Mexico. It was installed near Eagle Pass, a border city heavily impacted by unauthorized migrant crossings. 

In December, a panel of judges from the circuit court voted 2-1 that the barrier must be removed. The panel affirmed the Department of Justice’s claim that the barrier is dangerous. 

“The 5th Cir. Court of Appeals' denial of Texas' sovereign authority to secure the border with floating marine barriers is clearly wrong," Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote in a post on X. "[Attorney General Ken] Paxton & I will seek an immediate rehearing by the entire court. We'll go to SCOTUS if needed to protect Texas from Biden's open borders."

Days later, Judge David Alan Ezra affirmed Abbott’s government’s claim that the Rivers and Harbors Act does not allow the federal government to take actions against “sovereign States like the Defendant State of Texas and its officials,” per Newsweek.

Now, the majority of the court’s 17 judges sided with Texas. 

The barrier has been hotly contested since July when the Justice Department filed its initial complaint. 

We allege that Texas has flouted federal law by installing a barrier in the Rio Grande without obtaining the required federal authorization,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta in a press release. “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.”

Abbott and other Texas officials have argued that the barrier is a necessary tool in its fight against illegal immigration, human trafficking and drug smuggling at the border. 

“The United States failed to defend Texas’s borders, leading to millions of individuals and hundreds of millions of fatal doses of fentanyl, often trafficked by transnational criminal cartels, illegally entering Texas and the US,” the state government wrote in one appeal filed in September. “Consequently, the State declared a border-security disaster and placed an approximately 1,000-foot long buoy system in the Rio Grande to prevent people and drugs from being trafficked into the State, violating federal and Texas law.”

*For corrections please email [email protected]*