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In a significant ruling, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals has directed Texas to dismantle a 1,000-foot-long barrier it installed in the Rio Grande River, intended to impede illegal migrant crossings from Mexico.
In a 2-1 decision, the New Orleans-based court upheld a previous order from US District Court Judge David Ezra. Ezra had mandated that Texas officials relocate the buoy string, which was placed near Eagle Pass, Texas, to the US riverbank in July, pending the litigation’s resolution.
The appellate court’s decision aligns with the Biden administration’s stance, which argued that the barrier illegally obstructs navigation and raises humanitarian concerns. This verdict represents a blow to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, who has accused President Biden of being too lax on border security amidst escalating illegal crossings during his tenure. Texas retains the option to request a full review of the decision by the 5th Circuit.
Judge Don Willett, appointed by former President Trump, dissented in the ruling, contending that the specific section of the Rio Grande where the barrier was placed is not navigable, citing its inability to support commercial traffic. Neither Abbott’s office nor the US Justice Department has commented on the ruling immediately.
This comes as the Biden administration, which has received criticism from Texas and other Republican-led states over its immigration policies, recently announced plans to add sections to the border wall, marking a notable policy shift.