JULY 24, 2023
The Department of Justice filed suit on Monday against the state of Texas after its governor refused to remove a floating border barrier that the Biden administration says was unlawfully put into place.
“We allege that Texas has flouted federal law by installing a barrier in the Rio Grande without obtaining the required federal authorization,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a statement. “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.”
The White House said Monday that Abbott’s actions are “dangerous” and “unlawful” after the Republican governor defied DOJ’s request and told the president he would see the Biden administration in court.
The Department of Justice sent Abbott a letter on Thursday ordering him to remove a floating barrier in the Rio Grande River or face legal action. Texas’ actions “violate federal law” and “raise humanitarian concerns,” DOJ warned. It gave Texas until Monday to remove the barrier.
USA TODAY reported on Friday that migrant children and adults have been lacerated by razor wire installed by the state of Texas.
Abbott responded on Monday, blaming President Joe Biden’s immigration policies for migrant deaths, saying they encouraged migrants to cross “illegally through the water, instead of safely and legally at a port of entry.”
In his letter, Abbott suggested the president is the one to blame.
“Nobody drowns on a bridge,” Abbott replied. “It has been under your watch that migrants have suffered an unprecedented crisis of inhumanity.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Abbott’s actions are making it difficult for federal officials to patrol the area and access the Rio Grande River, where four migrants have drowned.
“Instead of coming to the table and trying to figure out a way to work together, he continues to do this really cruel, unjust, inhumane ways of moving forward,” she said.
Jean-Pierre did not say whether the president, who met with Abbott in January, had called the Texas governor. She said the GOP governor is “sowing chaos” and “not operating in good faith here.”
Pressed on why the Army Corps of Engineers don’t just move the barriers, she declined to speak to what the Army Corps will be instructed to do, saying the White House is speaking to the Abbott’s actions and how the DOJ will move forward. She directed the question to the Department of Homeland Security.
Instead, the Biden administration pointed to expanding legal pathways for migration and proposed comprehensive immigration reforms. Abbott’s actions, the White House said, are “undermining” the president’s efforts to curb illegal border crossings and making it harder for border patrol officers to do their jobs.
“If Governor Abbott truly wanted to drive toward real solutions, he’d be asking his Republican colleagues in Congress why they voted against President Biden’s request to increase funding for the Department of Homeland Security and why they’re blocking the comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures that would finally fix our broken immigration system,” White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan said in a statement after the DOJ filed its lawsuit.
Courtesy/Source: This article originally appeared on USA TODAY