AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas has moved a floating barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border closer to American soil as the Biden administration and Mexico protest the wrecking ball-sized buoys that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has installed in the Name of the prevention of migrants has approved entry into the country.
The repositioning comes ahead of a hearing on Tuesday, which could decide whether the buoys remain in place. Texas began installing the bright orange buoys on the Rio Grande in July and was quickly sued by the Justice Department, which argues the barrier could hurt ties with Mexico and pose humanitarian and environmental risks.
During a drive Monday to the border town of Eagle Pass, where the buoys are located, Abbott said the barrier was moved “out of the utmost caution” after he claimed they had drifted onto the Mexican side of the river.
“I don't know if they're true or not,” Abbott said.
It's not clear when Austin U.S. District Judge David Ezra will rule on the ban.
Meanwhile, Abbott's sprawling border mission called Operation Lone Star continues to face numerous legal challenges, including a new one filed Monday by four migrants detained by Texas soldiers after crossing the border.
The four men include a father and a son. They are among thousands of migrants arrested in Texas for breaching the peace since 2021. Most either had their cases dismissed or pleaded guilty in exchange for time served. However, according to the lawsuit filed by the Texas ACLU and the Texas Fair Defense Project, the four men remained in a Texas jail for two to six weeks after they should have been released.
According to the complaint, instead of a Texas sheriff's office allowing the prisons to release the men, they were taken to federal immigration facilities, from where they were then sent to Mexico.
“Also, I think a key point that's difficult to understand is that the issues flare up in different ways because they build the system over time,” said David Donatti, attorney for the Texas ACLU.
Representatives from Kinney and Val Verde County, named in the lawsuit, who work with Abbott's operations, did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment Monday.
The complaint also alleges that there were at least 80 other people held longer than permitted by state law from late September 2021 to January 2022.
Abbott was joined at the border Monday by the Republican governors of Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska and South Dakota, who have all dispatched their own armed law enforcement and National Guard members to the border.
___ Gonzalez reported from McAllen, Texas.