FIRST ON FOX: More than 20 House Republican lawmakers filed amicus brief in support of Texas against a Justice Department lawsuit over its construction of a floating border barrier along the Rio Grande.
The 22 lawmakers, led by Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, filed the brief in response to the Justice Department’s lawsuit which alleges that the floating border barrier is in violation of federal law.
The border barrier was launched last month as part of an effort by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to stop migrants crossing along the Rio Grande. Texas says it is designed to save lives by preventing people from entering the river, but humanitarian groups and the DOJ argue that the barrier poses a safety risk.
‘The State of Texas’s actions violate federal law, raise humanitarian concerns, present serious risks to public safety and the environment, and may interfere with the federal government’s ability to carry out its official duties,’ the DOJ said in a letter to Abbott before the suit was filed.
The DOJ lawsuit argues that the buoy barrier is in violation of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which protects navigable waters from obstructions and outlines authorities for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The lawmakers argue that the federal government’s claim that the Rio Grande is ‘navigable’ is flimsy and based on a finding from 1947. They argue instead that the river has changed substantially since then and therefore cannot be classed as such now.
‘When Congress passed the Rivers and Harbors Act it carefully chose language designed to balance its desire to protect our rivers and harbors for commercial navigation with the limitations placed on its authority under the Commerce Clause,’ they say. ‘It did not intend to grant federal agencies unchecked power to regulate every ditch and stream that once upon a time could have carried a boat.’
It calls on the court to make the government produce evidence that the waters it wants to regulate are navigable, arguing that otherwise, that act could turn into a ‘one-way ratchet’ in which federal authority expands but never shrinks. The lawmakers include Reps. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, August Pfluger, R-Texas, Brian Babin, R-Texas and Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Arrington said that states ‘do not have to be passive victims of Biden’s border crisis and a failed federal government’ and that the barrier is within Abbott’s power and authority.
‘Biden’s DOJ is stretching far and wide; this time, by using obscure laws and regulations to impede the Governor of Texas from protecting his citizens against the ‘imminent danger’ and ‘invasion’ of drugs and crime pouring into our state by terrorist drug cartels,’ he said. ‘I’m proud to lead this Amicus Brief in support of the Governor as he stands his ground on the firm foundation of the US Constitution and his sovereign right to secure the southern border and keep Texans safe.’
The amicus brief marks the latest twist in the debate over the barrier, which is one of a number of initiatives Texas has taken to secure its border amid a historic migrant crisis on which it has been on the front lines.
Mexico has also complained about the border and tied the death of at least one migrant to the barrier.
‘We reiterate the position of the Government of Mexico that the placement of wire buoys by the Texas authorities is a violation of our sovereignty,’ the foreign ministry said in a statement. ‘We express our concern about the impact on the human rights and personal safety of migrants that these state policies will have, which run counter to the close collaboration between our country and the federal government of the United States.
Texas pushed back, calling Mexico’s claim ‘flat-out wrong’ and said that information indicating the death occurred further upstream.
‘This is a result of the reckless open border policies of President Biden and President López Obrador. In fact, before Texas deployed barriers, the United Nations declared the U.S.-Mexico border the deadliest land crossing in the world,’ an Abbott spokesperson said. ‘If President Biden and President López Obrador truly cared about human life, they would do their jobs and secure the border.’