Greg Abbott Issues Eight-Word Warning Over Texas Circular Saw Barriers


Republican Governor Greg Abbott has vowed to fight a federal judge’s order on Wednesday to state authorities to remove a floating barrier in the Rio Grande.

Judge David Ezra of the U.S. District Court in Austin ordered Texas to move the 1,000-foot barrier placed in the middle of Rio Grande by Abbott this summer. The state has been asked to move the structure out of the water and onto the riverbank by September 15.

The wrecking-ball-sized buoys—installed to deter border crossings from Mexico—impede navigation along the river and are a “threat to human life,” according to the judge’s preliminary injunction.

It was the latest blow in a slew of controversies that have followed the installation of the barrier. The structure is made of a series of buoys between which circular saws have been installed. The barrier, placed near the border city of Eagle Pass, has sparked protests and condemnation from state Democratic lawmakers and local activists, as well as raised concerns from Mexican authorities.

In this composite picture: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (inset) on June 08, 2023, in Austin, Texas; buoys are pictured placed along the Rio Grande border with Mexico in Eagle Pass, Texas, on August 24, 2023, to prevent migrants from entering the U.S.
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The U.S. Department of Justice moved to condemn the barrier and called for Texas to remove it, filing a lawsuit against the state in July which resulted in Wednesday’s ruling. Abbott installed the barrier without permission and this impeded navigation along the river, according to the DOJ. The buoys, it said, endangered migrants and threatened U.S.-Mexico relations.

In response to the DOJ, Abbott had defended the barrier saying that the “segment of the river where the buoy system has been deployed is not navigable; even if it were, the buoy system does not decrease the navigable capacity of the river; and the buoy system is not a boom or other structure prohibited under the [Rivers and Harbors] Act.”

The Republican governor appears far from crushed by the latest ruling. In a brief statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, Abbott wrote that “this fight ain’t over.” He added: “It’s only just begun.”

In a previous post on the platform, Abbott had vowed to appeal the federal judge’s decision. “Texas will appeal,” he wrote on X sharing a screenshot of his office’s statement in response to the judge’s ruling.

“Texas will appeal. Today’s court decision merely prolongs President Biden’s willful refusal to acknowledge that Texas is rightfully stepping up to do the job that he should have been doing all along,” the statement said.

“This ruling is incorrect and will be overturned on appeal. 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,” the statement said.

“Our battle to defend Texas’ sovereign authority to protect lives from the chaos caused by President Biden’s open border policies has only begun. Texas is prepared to take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Abbott has argued that the installation to prevent migrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is justified as a measure to prevent an “invasion by the Mexican drug cartels.”

Judge Ezra, a Ronald Reagan appointee, rejected this argument, saying: “Under this logic, once Texas decides, in its sole discretion, that it has been invaded, it is subject to no oversight of its ‘chosen means of waging war.’ Such a claim is breathtaking.”

In a written statement that followed Judge Ezra’s decision, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said that the DOJ was “pleased” with the Austin court’s ruling.

“We are pleased that the court ruled that the barrier was unlawful and irreparably harms diplomatic relations, public safety, navigation, and the operations of federal agency officials in and around the Rio Grande,” she said.

Newsweek contacted Abbott’s office and the DOJ for comment by email on Thursday.


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