Texas Faces New Deadline to Remove Controversial Buoys From Rio Grande


Texas officials were ordered to remove the floating border wall from the Rio Grande by September 15, dealing a blow to Governor Greg Abbott, who quickly vowed to “take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The state also cannot install any similar structures in the Rio Grande without prior approval, U.S. District Judge David Ezra wrote in his ruling on Wednesday.

The wrecking ball-sized buoys were installed in the river near Eagle Pass, Texas, in July. The barriers have created an avalanche of online scrutiny, with critics calling the roughly 1,000-foot floating barrier inhumane.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed the federal lawsuit at the end of July, accusing the Abbott administration of violating federal law by building the structure. Texas officials have defended the floating wall, saying it’s an attempt to secure the U.S.-Mexico border against migrants and that the part of the river in question was too shallow for the law to apply. Ezra disagreed with the defense, saying Texas violated the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 by not obtaining prior approval for the barrier.

Workers provide maintenance to the blades between the buoys placed along the Rio Grande border with Mexico to prevent migrants from entering the U.S., on August 25, 2023. Texas must remove the border buoys by September 15 and is banned from installing similar structures in the river, according to a federal ruling.

Newsweek reached out via email on Wednesday to Abbott’s representatives for comment.

Ezra criticized Abbott in his ruling, saying the floating barriers were installed “without authorization of any kind, save the Governor’s directive.”

In his decision, the judge ruled that the buoys were placed in a navigable body of water and require a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Ezra further argued that Texas officials’ reasoning that the barrier is a defense in the wake of a migrant “invasion” is “unconvincing.”

Shortly after the ruling, Abbott announced on X, formerly Twitter, that the state planned to file an appeal. The Republican governor blamed President Joe Biden, saying that Texas is “stepping up” to do the job Biden should have done.

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

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here