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Appeals court orders temporary stay on Texas buoy barriers

A federal judge had ordered Texas to move floating barriers meant to deter migrants at the border — an appeals court said they can stay, for now.
Appeals court orders temporary stay on Texas buoy barriers
Posted at 8:02 PM, Sep 07, 2023

A 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge ruled late on Thursday to temporarily halt an order from a district court judge that had required the state of Texas to remove controversial buoy barriers floating in the Rio Grande river, meant to deter migrants at the border with Mexico. 

In a previous ruling, a court ruled that the barriers would have to be removed by Sept. 15, and that Texas would have to pay for the removal. 

The ruling that came down late on Thursday argued that the state of Texas' ability to defend itself and its sovereignty would be hurt. Court documents outlined the argument that the United States government has "failed to defend Texas's borders, leading to millions of individuals and hundreds of millions of fatal doses of fentanyl, often trafficked by transnational criminal cartels, illegally entering Texas and the U.S." 

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In a previous ruling, U.S. District Judge David Ezra had all but required Texas to dismantle the wrecking-ball sized buoys floating in the Rio Grande, saying they were a threat to safety, and that they would harm relationships with neighboring countries.

Lawyers in the appeal argued that "The buoys were deployed under the Governor’s constitutional authority to defend Texas from transnational-criminal-cartel invasion."

The lawyers said, "Moving the buoys exacerbates dangers to migrants enticed to cross the border unlawfully, and to Texans harmed by human trafficking, drug smuggling, and unchecked cartel violence."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's office said it was willing to fight the case and attempt to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. 

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