Graves leads effort to support Texas’ ability to protect southern border

U.S. Sen. Sam Graves (R-MO) led his colleagues on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in raising concerns about a recent lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the State of Texas in response to border security measures taken by the Abbott administration.

In an Oct. 19 letter sent to leaders of the U.S. Department of the Army and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lawmakers expressed dismay that the DOJ lawsuit took issue with a chain of marine buoys that were installed in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, Texas, to deter illegal crossings into the United States. The DOJ said that Texas lacked federal authorization under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (RHA) to place the buoy barrier in the river.

“As Members of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, we are concerned that the DOJ is using Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (RHA) as an excuse to thwart the State of Texas’ efforts to protect the Southern border,” the letter said. 

“The Biden administration’s current policies create the impression that illegally entering the United States is a risk worth taking, therefore creating a crisis with drastic humanitarian costs. Further compounding this situation, lax border policies allow cartels and drug smugglers to funnel dangerous amounts of illegal substances into our Nation, harming American families,” the lawmakers wrote.

DOJ, in the lawsuit filed in July, seeks to have the buoys removed at the state’s expense. A federal district court judge sided with the DOJ and granted a preliminary injunction in the case, ordering the buoys to be moved by Sept. 15. However, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit granted a stay from the injunction, allowing the buoys to remain in place, Sen. Graves’ office stated.

The lawmakers in the letter asked the Army to answer a series of questions regarding the regulatory review of buoys in the Rio Grande and to provide all documents and communications related to the decision to bring legal action against the State of Texas.

“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,” Rep. Graves and his colleagues wrote.