Texas governor Greg Abbott (R.) said he will fight the Biden administration in court after the Department of Justice threatened a lawsuit against the state for installing buoys with underwater netting in parts of the Rio Grande river to deter illegal migrant crossings.
"Texas has the sovereign authority to defend our border, under the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution," Abbott tweeted on Friday. "We will see you in court, Mr. President."
The DOJ alerted Texas to the potential legal action on Thursday in a letter from Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim and U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza. The letter said if Texas failed to dismantle the structure, a lawsuit would follow.
"We write to inform you … that the United States intends to file [a] legal action in relation to the State of Texas’s unlawful construction of a floating barrier in the Rio Grande River," the letter read, pointing to "humanitarian concerns," "risks to public safety and the environment," and potential interference against federal government duties as the reasons for the suit.
The buoys, which are anchored to the riverbed, are set to cover 1,000 feet of the river near Eagle Pass, an area where Border Patrol agents reported the second-highest migrant crossing numbers this year. The first netting devices were set up earlier this month.
"What these buoys will allow us to do is to prevent people from even getting to the border," Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said in June.
About said in his response last week that his state is "stepping up to address this crisis."
"The tragic humanitarian crisis on the border was created because of Biden’s refusal to secure the border," Abbott said. "His open border policies encourage migrants to risk their lives crossing illegally through the Rio Grande, instead of safely and legally over a bridge."
The legal showdown comes after more than 4.6 million illegal immigrants have been apprehended since Biden took office in January 2021, according to Reuters, including repeat crossers. Border Patrol reported more than 67,700 apprehensions and 15,780 gotaways in the span of a single week in May.