Appeals Court Rules In Favor Of Texas In Biden Admin Dispute
A closely watched legal battle over Texas’s efforts to deter illegal crossings of its border with Mexico has ended in a Thursday decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Appeals Court granted Texas’s motion for an administrative stay after a Reagan appointee in the U.S. District Court, Judge David Ezra, ordered Texas officials to remove their floating barriers from the Rio Grande.
Judge Ezra had ruled against Texas, citing violations of the Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA) of 1899. The judge wrote 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.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) disagreed with Judge Ezra’s ruling, saying that “buoys have nearly eliminated illegal crossings of people and drugs where they’ve been placed.” Abbott’s legal team pledged to challenge the ruling on appeal.
“This ruling is incorrect and will be overturned on appeal,” Abbott said. “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.”
Abbott’s attention to border security is well-placed. The Department of Justice recently reported that in August 2023, a total of 177,000 people were arrested for illegal crossing. Out of these, 91,000 people crossed in a family group, the highest ever for a single month. The number of children crossing per day jumped as well, from 270 in July to 377 in August.
As for the border itself, the legal battle is likely far from over. The Department of Justice sued Texas over its barrier, citing environmental and humanitarian concerns, and the Fifth Circuit’s stay is only temporary. But the appellate court’s ruling gives Texas the ability to keep its current barriers in place as the case moves forward.
The impact of this legal ruling is clear. The Fifth Circuit Appeals Court’s decision could have a major impact on the way immigration is handled at the border, as Texas is the first state to install and now keep barriers on the Rio Grande. The ruling could also set a precedent for future cases, particularly those that involve the legality of barriers set up by states alongside their borders with other countries.