Texas Tries, Justice Denies: The Rio Grande Buoy Debacle Gets a Federal Reckoning

Texas, oh Texas. Once again, the Lone Star state has made headlines, but not in the way it probably hoped. A federal judge has just schooled Texas big time, ordering it to remove roughly 1,000 feet of orange buoys from the Rio Grande. These aren’t just any buoys, folks. They’re tied together with metal cables and anchored with concrete, making the river’s waters even more treacherous.

Remember how in July, the Department of Justice wasn’t too pleased with these buoy barricades? They sued Texas and its Republican Governor, Greg Abbott. Judge David A. Ezra (and get this, he was appointed by Ronald Reagan), dropped the hammer and told Texas to get those buoys out of there by September 15. Oh, and Texas? No more buoys, blockades, or structures in the river. Period.

So, why did Texas put these buoys up? Enter “Operation Lone Star” – Abbott’s anti-immigration initiative. Judge Ezra had a few choice words about that: “Unfortunately for Texas, permission is exactly what federal law requires before installing obstructions in the nation’s navigable waters.”

Texas Democrats like Congressman Joaquin Castro and U.S. Rep. Greg Casar took to social media platforms, applauding the judge’s decision and criticizing Abbott’s “politics over policy” approach.

The Internet was abuzz with activists and advocacy groups cheering the federal judge’s decision. Antonio Arellano from NextGen America labeled it a “major win” for both the Biden-Harris administration and basic human rights. United We Dream Action went even further, decrying these “inhumane traps” that were seemingly set up to harm those just trying to find a better life.

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, who leads the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, didn’t mince words either. She said that this entire stunt was just for media attention and a gross misuse of Texas taxpayer funds.

The sentiment was echoed by Aaron Reichlin-Melnick from the American Immigration Council. In a nutshell? Texas knew they were playing with fire. If you’re going to try and place a barrier in a river, at least get the proper permissions. But, wait for it… Abbott has said Texas will appeal. And if they have their way, this might just go all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta weighed in, expressing her relief that the court recognized the unlawfulness of the barrier. She highlighted how it damaged diplomatic relations and jeopardized public safety.

So, here’s the tea: When it comes to human rights, we should all be vigilant. It’s heartening to see the checks and balances of our system in action. And Texas? Maybe next time, think twice before floating questionable policies on the Rio Grande.