DOJ sues Texas Governor Greg Abbott over Rio Grande buoy barrier

July  26, 2023

On Monday, July 24, the Department of Justice sued Texas over a string of buoys deployed by the state on the Rio Grande River near the city of Eagle Pass in order to prevent people from illegally crossing into the United States from Mexico—saying it violates federal environmental law and threatens public safety, reports Axios.

The Justice Department argues in the lawsuit that Texas’ floating barrier violates the Rivers and Harbors Act, which is often considered the oldest federal environmental law.

  • “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.”

In addition to the floating barrier, Texas has set up miles of razor wire barriers along crossing points on the river near Eagle Pass.

What’s more, the state, itself, is currently investigating claims made by a state trooper that superiors had ordered officers to push migrants—including children and babies—back into the river and to deny them drinking water, according to the Houston Chronicle. The trooper also alleged that the razor wire has injured multiple people—including a woman who had a miscarriage while caught in the wire.

In a statement on Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R),, claimed that the string of buoys was legal because the Constitution “grants Texas sovereign authority to protect its borders.”

“Mr. President, Texas will see you in court,” Abbott said on social media in response to the lawsuit.

The string of buoys and concertina wire is part of Texas’ “Operation Lone Star,” which has cost the state billions of dollars while having little effect on migration, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The commission has stated that it did not authorize Texas’ placement of the barrier, according to the AP.

Illegal border crossings also dropped to the lowest level in over two years in June.

Research contact: @axios