A U.S. appeals court has ruled that Texas must remove a 1,000-foot floating barrier along the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, aimed at preventing illegal crossings by migrants. The decision comes as the port of entry in Lukeville, Arizona, announced its closure due to an overwhelming influx of migrants entering the state.
The ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which upheld a federal judge’s decision, is seen as a victory for the Biden administration.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Texas in July, claiming that the buoys obstruct navigation, pose safety risks, and violate the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act. This act requires approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for any barriers placed in navigable waters.
In September, a U.S. District Court Judge ordered Texas to remove the barriers, a decision that Texas Governor Greg Abott criticized as being “clearly wrong.” Abott plans to seek an immediate rehearing by the entire court and will take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
Eagle Pass is located in a Border Patrol sector that has experienced the second-highest number of migrant crossings this fiscal year. In response to the surge in migrants, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced the closure of the port of entry in Lukeville, starting on Monday.
This closure will allow officials to process migrants who have already crossed through the port of entry, which has become a major migration route in recent months. Many migrants are entering through gaps in the border wall and smugglers are abandoning migrants from various countries, including China, India, and Senegal, in the area.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection stated that they are deploying additional resources to expedite the processing of migrants in Lukeville while continuing to prioritize border security.
The agency is adapting its operational plans to address the changing migration trends and counter the efforts of smugglers who prey on vulnerable individuals.
In October alone, an average of 3,140 individuals arrived by car and 184 pedestrians crossed the border at this crossing daily, according to the U.S. Transportation Department. However, alternate crossing points in Nogales and San Luis, Arizona, remain accessible.