The Appeals Court granted a motion from Texas to place an administrative stay after Senior U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra ordered Texas officials to remove the floating barriers from the river that Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) had installed.
Abbott’s legal team said on Thursday that “buoys have nearly eliminated illegal crossings of people and drugs where they’ve been placed.”
Ezra’s order followed the Department of Justice suing Texas over the barrier, citing environmental and humanitarian concerns. Ezra, a Reagan appointee, said Texas’ actions had violated the Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA) of 1899.
“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 judge wrote. “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.”
Abbott argued that Ezra’s ruling was wrong and vowed that Texas would challenge it.
“This ruling is incorrect and will be overturned on appeal,” Abbott said in a statement. “We will continue to utilize every strategy to secure the border, including deploying Texas National Guard soldiers and Department of Public Safety troopers and installing strategic barriers.”
Illegal crossings remain sky-high as most of the foreign nationals crossing into the U.S. are processed and given a court date before being released into the U.S. According to recent numbers, about 177,000 people were arrested in August 2023 for illegally entering the U.S.
In that same month, 91,000 illegal immigrants crossed in a family group, the highest ever. The number is 7,000 more than the previous record, which was set in May 2019. The number of children crossing per day jumped from 270 in July to 377 in August, according to the New York Times.