Texas’ Floating Border Wall Faces Adverse Court Ruling

An appeals court recently delivered a setback to Texas’ attempts to erect a border wall along the Rio Grande, deeming it a violation of federal law. This ruling favored President Biden in his ongoing dispute with Governor Greg Abbott regarding the pressing issue of illegal immigration.

Governor Abbott had mandated the installation of “marine floating barriers” near Eagle Pass to curb migrant crossings, but federal authorities argued that it disrupted the river and Border Patrol operations, leading to a demand for removal. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, upheld the injunction to cease construction on the barrier. Judge Dana M. Douglas, appointed by Biden, supported the injunction, emphasizing alignment with established facts, a stance backed by Judge Carolyn Dineen King, a Carter appointee.

At the core of the matter was the determination of whether the Rio Grande met the criteria of being “navigable” according to the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, which confers federal authority over such water bodies.

The court ultimately affirmed that the river indeed qualifies as navigable. Nevertheless, Judge Don Willett, appointed by Trump, dissented, highlighting that the particular 1,000-foot segment under scrutiny lacked historical or prospective commercial or navigational use, thereby questioning the evidence supporting its classification as “navigable.”

“In sum, there is not sufficient evidence to find that the United States is likely to prevail in showing that this specific 1,000-foot stretch of the Rio Grande was historically used or susceptible of use in commerce. The district court clearly erred in finding navigability on this ground,” he wrote.

This decision comes after another ruling in which a federal court rejected Texas’ request for an injunction to prevent the Biden administration from cutting through razor wire on private property along the Rio Grande. U.S. District Judge Alia Moses deemed Texas’ evidence insufficient for a legal challenge but also criticized federal authorities for their role in the surge of migrants.

Governor Abbott has been a prominent critic of President Biden’s immigration policies, taking various measures such as deploying the National Guard, directing state police to arrest illegal immigrants on state charges, funding border wall construction, and implementing barriers like the floating wall and razor wire. Abbott argues that these actions are justified under the “invasion” clause of the Constitution.