Federal Appeals Court Orders Texas to Remove Border Buoy Barrier from Rio Grande

The floating border buoy installed by the State of Texas in the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass must be removed, according to a ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday. The 2-1 ruling by the court affirmed the Biden administration’s Department of Justice argument that the buoys pose a threat to public safety and block navigation in the Rio Grande.

In a Friday X posting (formerly Twitter), Texas Governor Greg Abbott promised to seek an immediate hearing on the matter by the entire court.

The decision of the appeals court upholds a lower court injunction that instructs the state to remove the 1000-foot floating barrier within ten days. In addition to historical data submitted by the federal government categorizing the Rio Grande as a navigable waterway subject to U.S. jurisdiction, the Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, Jason D. Owens, was cited by the court as providing information regarding the buoys’ negative impact on rescue operations by his agency. Owens’s testimony sought to persuade the court that the freedom of movement of small watercraft used to respond quickly in migrant rescues would be impaired by the barrier, and response times would potentially be delayed.

According to Owens, from the beginning of fiscal year 2018 through July 23, 2023, there were 249 water-related rescues and 89 water-related deaths of migrants that occurred in or around the Rio Grande throughout the Eagle Pass Border Patrol Station’s area of responsibility.

The barrier, installed at a busy migrant crossing point near Eagle Pass, Texas, in July, is a product manufactured by the Cochrane USA corporation. Abbott announced the installation of the floating barrier system in June as he signed a host of border security bills in Austin.

As reported by Breitbart Texas, the project quickly came under fire by open-border protesters unhappy with the installation of the buoys and Governor Abbott’s enhanced border security efforts under Operation Lone Star.

The circuit court’s ruling on the floating border buoy system is the second legal setback to Abbott’s attempts at border security in recent days. On Wednesday, as reported by Breitbart Texas, a federal judge in the Western District of Texas reversed her Temporary Restraining Order that stopped the Department of Homeland Security from cutting or manipulating concertina wire installed along the banks of the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass.

That order reverses a previous injunction by the same judge that precluded the Border Patrol from manipulating the wire that would allow migrants to enter the United States, except for exigent emergency circumstances. The case will now proceed to a trial on the merits. No trial date has been set as of press time.

Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol.  Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.


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