The federal Justice Department is prepared to sue state authorities in Texas over the state’s usage of physical barriers in and along the Rio Grande River, according to a letter dispatched to the state that began circulating late this week.
Efforts by Texas officials have included floating barriers in the actual river and razor wire along its banks. Separately, a report from the Houston Chronicle recently claimed there had been incidents of harsh treatment against some of the migrants trying to get through, including soldiers with the Texas National Guard having forced a young girl back into the extensive body of water. This child subsequently passed out from heat exhaustion, and medical care was provided, reports indicated. Individuals have also been physically injured and even stuck in the razor wire that Abbott’s team has planted.
The Chronicle reported the existence of that new letter outlining readiness from the feds for a lawsuit, with concerns including the interference with the ability of U.S. authorities to conduct their own enforcement of the law. The Justice Department officials behind the letter, Assistant Attorney General Todd Kimm and U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza of the Western District of Texas, also argued there was an evident violation of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which restricts obstructions to U.S. bodies of water. And internationally, some have even raised concerns about potential violations of agreements with Mexico, with the barriers potentially impacting the use of the Rio Grande River’s resources, which support agriculture in both countries.
“This floating barrier poses a risk to navigation, as well as public safety, in the Rio Grande River, and it presents humanitarian concerns. Thus, we intend to seek appropriate legal remedies, which may include seeking injunctive relief requiring the removal of obstructions or other structures in the Rio Grande River,” the new letter says, as highlighted by the Chronicle.
Abbott was predictably defiant and indicated he was prepared to defend his policies in court. Elsewhere, Republican politicians remain committed to an aggressive stance. Presidential contender and Florida governor Ron DeSantis has even argued for using lethal force against individuals trying to make it through southern border barriers.