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Rouzer, Graves Question DOJ Motives for Lawsuit Against Governor Abbott, State of Texas Over Border Security Measures

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman David Rouzer (R-NC) and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) led T&I Committee Republicans in writing to the U.S. Department of the Army and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to express concerns about the recent lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) against Governor Greg Abbott and the State of Texas in response to border security measures implemented by the Abbott Administration. 

In the lawsuit, DOJ seeks to have a chain of marine buoys – which were installed in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, TX, to humanely deter illegal crossings into the United States – removed at the state’s expense, citing a lack of authorization under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (RHA).  In the letter, the 20 T&I Republicans suggest DOJ is using the navigational objectives of Section 10 of the RHA as an excuse to combat Texas’ effort to secure the southern border and further paper over the Biden Administration’s failed immigration policies.

The Members wrote, “The Biden Administration’s refusal to secure our Southern border has led to over 2.2 million encounters as of August 2023, following nearly 2.4 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, a staggering number. Last year, the United Nations labeled the United States-Mexico border as the deadliest land crossing in the world.... Due to these failures, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has taken a number of steps to protect the State’s border with Mexico. One initiative in Texas’ efforts has been the installation of a chain of marine buoys in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, TX, which began on July 7, 2023…. The buoys are designed to be as humane as possible, while deterring people from attempting to cross through or under them into the United States.”  

The DOJ filed a civil complaint against Governor Abbott and the State of Texas on July 24, 2023, seeking to have the buoys removed, but the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit granted a stay from the injunction, allowing the buoys to remain in place. 

The Members further explained their concerns that “the Biden Administration is weaponizing Section 10 of the RHA in their lawsuit, thus dragging the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) into the White House’s political fight. Section 10 of the RHA primarily focuses on ensuring navigation for the purposes of interstate commerce. Therefore, it is inappropriate to hijack this authority to bar a state from executing stronger and more robust border security policies which the Administration opposes. It is imperative that we ensure this Administration is not leveraging the navigation regulatory process to distract from its failure to secure our Sothern border.” 

The Members requested more information, including copies of all documents, communications, and correspondence from the Army and the Corps regarding the decision to bring legal action against the State of Texas and regulatory review of Section 10 of the RHA.  

Click here to read the full letter.