The Department of Justice plans to sue Texas for deploying a floating barricade at the southern border, according to a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott obtained by POLITICO.
Abbott’s response: “I’ll see you in court, Mr. President.”
In its Thursday letter, the DOJ cited the “unlawful construction of a floating barrier in the Rio Grande River” and asserted that the barrier might impede the federal government’s “official duties.”
The letter did not address any migrant-related concerns at the Texas-Mexico border, but DOJ spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa said Friday that “the department is aware of the troubling reports, and we are working with DHS and other relevant agencies to assess the situation.”
A group of 87 congressional Democrats also penned a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday, asking him to intervene in Texas’ border practices.
Led by Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, the lawmakers expressed “profound concern” about Abbott’s border policies, known as Operation Lone Star. The letter asked the federal government to “immediately intervene,” citing reports of “barbaric” practices making the border areas “death traps for migrants,” and arguing that the border policies interfere in the federal enforcement of immigration laws and violate U.S.-Mexico border treaties.
According to The Associated Press, Mexico’s top diplomat, Foreign Relations Secretary Alicia Bárcena, also filed a complaint to the U.S. government last week, alleging that Texas’ makeshift floating border on the Rio Grande may violate two treaties.
Abbott responded to the concerns around Operation Lone Star in a series of tweets Friday afternoon, centering the blame on Biden and stating that “Texas is stepping up to address this crisis.”
“The tragic humanitarian crisis on the border was created because of Biden’s refusal to secure the border,” Abbott wrote. “His open border policies encourage migrants to risk their lives crossing illegally through the Rio Grande, instead of safely and legally over a bridge.”
The political skirmish is the latest in a prolonged battle over border policies between Republican governors and the Biden administration, with state leaders like Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sending migrants to Democratic-led cities as a show of protest against federal immigration policies.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety troops received orders to push migrant children into the Rio Grande River and to withhold water from migrants experiencing heat exhaustion. The report also detailed incidents of migrants being injured by razor wire placed along an unsanctioned, makeshift buoy wall in the Rio Grande, including a pregnant woman having a miscarriage and a teen who broke their leg trying to cross the wire.
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.