One of the more pernicious developments in our politics is the effort by red-state governors to assert outsize power over immigration in their states, in ways designed to appeal to national right-wing audiences. For instance, the state of Texas recently placed a large barrier in the Rio Grande, supposedly to keep migrants out, but actually just to send a message to Fox News viewers that the state is securing the border where President Biden allegedly refused.
But now the Justice Department has sent a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott notifying him that the department will sue the state over the barrier if Texas does not commit to removing it by Monday afternoon.
“The State of Texas’s actions violate federal law, raise humanitarian concerns, present serious risks to public safety and the environment, and may interfere with the federal government’s ability to carry out its official duties,” reads the letter I obtained.
Many of Texas’ moves on immigration policy seem deliberately provocative. Abbott openly declared that the barrier in the Rio Grande was designed for “securing the border” by preventing migrants from “even getting to the border,” a declaration that Texas sees itself taking over border policy.
“The Biden administration is asserting its authority over the border, and rightly so,” immigration attorney David Leopold told me. “Texas has no business taking over federal immigration law, which is what they’re doing.”
In its letter, the Justice Department flatly states that the barrier obscures navigation of the Rio Grande in violation of federal law and that the Army Corps of Engineers didn’t authorize the move.
“Texas does not have authorization from the Corps to install the floating barrier and did not seek such authorization before doing so,” the letter states. [Continue reading…]