Texas for the time being will be allowed to keep its floating river barriers in the Rio Grande in place after a U.S. appeals court Thursday temporarily pausedthat would have required the state to remove the controversial buoys, which are intended to deter migrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
At the request of Texas, the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an administrative stay of Wednesday's ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra while the appeals process plays out.
Ezra had issued a preliminary injunction directing Texas officials to remove the floating border barriers from the middle of the Rio Grande by Sept. 15, at the state's own expense. He also prohibited the state from setting up similar structures in the middle of the Rio Grande.
Thursday's stay will remain in place until the appeals court issues its own ruling on the merits of Texas' request for the lower court ruling to be suspended.
The Biden administration in late July filed a lawsuit over the barriers, which had been approved by Texas Gov. Greg Abbot. The Justice Department argued that Texas needed permission from the federal government to set them up, and that the state had failed to acquire it. The administration also said the structures impeded Border Patrol agents from patrolling the border, endangered migrants and hurt U.S.-Mexico relations.
Ezra concluded that Texas needed to obtain permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to place the barriers in the river.
In his ruling, however, Ezra said he was directing Texas state officials to move the floating barriers from the middle of the Rio Grande to the riverbank on the U.S. side, rather than ordering their "removal entirely from the river."
The buoys mark the latest flashpoint in a two-year political feud between the Biden administration and Abbott, who has accused the federal government of not doing enough to deter migrants from crossing the southern border illegally.
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