(The Center Square) – Texas has a right to defend its own border, Gov. Greg Abbott said on Friday in response to the U.S. Department of Justice demanding the state remove marine barriers placed in the Rio Grande River in the Eagle Pass area of Texas.
“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 wrote to Abbott in a letter on Thursday. The DOJ gave Abbott until Monday to agree to remove the barriers. If he didn’t agree or reply, the DOJ said it would sue.
Abbott gave his reply on Friday, saying: “We will see you in court, Mr. President.”
The Rio Grande barriers were placed as part of Operation Lone Star, Texas’ border security efforts, to deter individuals from illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.
Abbott tweeted from his personal account saying, “Texas has the sovereign authority to defend our border, under the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution. We have sent the Biden Administration numerous letters detailing our authority, including the one I hand-delivered to President [Joe] Biden earlier this year.”
The governor was referring to a Jan. 8 encounter when he arrived at the airport in El Paso to greet the president and give him a letter with an outline of solutions to solve the border crisis. Abbott has sent eight letters to the president, he’s previously told The Center Square, and has received no response.
January 2023 was the first time Biden visited the border in Texas during his presidency. Abbott had previously invited him to visit the border and learn about the crisis. The president stopped in El Paso in January on his way to Mexico City and didn’t invite Abbott to join him or attend meetings scheduled with Democratic officials, Abbott has previously explained.
“The tragic humanitarian crisis on the border was created because of Biden’s refusal to secure the border,” Abbott said on Friday, referring to claims made by media outlets about Texas Department of Public Safety troopers pushing illegal foreign nationals into the Rio Grande River. Earlier this week, Texas officials refuted those claims.
The president’s “open border policies encourage migrants to risk their lives crossing illegally through the Rio Grande, instead of safely and legally over a bridge,” Abbott said. “Texas is stepping up to address this crisis. We will continue to deploy every strategy to protect Texans and Americans – and the migrants risking their lives. We will see you in court, Mr. President.”
Democratic members of Congress on Friday sent a letter to the president urging him to use his “authority over federal immigration policy and foreign relations and investigate and pursue legal action … to stop Governor Abbott’s dangerous and cruel actions.”
The members of Congress argue Texas DPS troopers are impeding federal immigration enforcement efforts. They also claim that Texas did not obtain permits from the International Boundary and Water Commission to install the marine barriers, referring to two treaties the U.S. government signed with Mexico, in 1944 and 1970.
However, a new international coalition, led by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, argues, “a generation of cooperative and friendly U.S.-Mexico relations has collapsed. The Mexican government is not an ally to the United States and can no longer properly be described as a partner.”
The coalition also argues the “Mexican government and Mexican criminal cartels exist in conscious and willing symbiosis, at multiple levels, up to and including the Mexican presidency. … The current president of Mexico has expressed his openness to a pact with the cartels and spoken of his willingness to defend them from American action,” posing a threat to Mexican and American citizens.