exas Governor Greg Abbott’s push to stay proceedings in a case regarding the state’s buoys in its river border with Mexico has been denied by a district court.
Amid rising concerns about immigration and border security, the state installed a 1,000-foot barrier in the Rio Grande in July to deter migrants.
In December 2023, the United States District Court of the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, considered Abbott’s motion to dismiss complaints issued in July 2023. That was when the Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a lawsuit arguing that establishing the barrier in U.S. navigable water requires the approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which Abbott did not obtain before the buoys were placed in the water.
Judge David Alan Ezra granted Abbott’s motion that the Rivers and Harbors Act authorizes actions only against persons and corporations, “not against sovereign States like the Defendant State of Texas and its officials.” Abbott had also stated in the motion that the section of the Rio Grande where the buoys are placed is not navigable and it does not represent an obstruction. Newsweek contacted representatives for Abbott by email on Friday to comment on this story.
Meanwhile, on December 1, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, agreed with the Biden administration that the barrier over the Rio Grande is dangerous.
Abbott sought an immediate en banc hearing, meaning all court judges are to be convened to rehear the case.
He has now argued that proceeding to a trial in the United States District Court of the Western District of Texas would be inefficient because, in its rehearing, a 5th Circuit Judge could agree with 5th Circuit Judge Don Willett. He wrote a dissenting opinion in the original judgment that the river not used for commerce.
However, Ezra wrote in a filing that the case need not be delayed pending an appeal and that Texas did not need more time for discovery. The judge added: “A trial is needed to explore the factual issues and merits of the case.”