When Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, installed floating barriers in the middle of the Rio Grande to deserve as a deterrent for illegal migrants who wanted to cross into his state, he may not have envisioned that the threats to his initiative would come from areas outside of immigration.
But, that’s exactly what’s happening, as some groups have raised concerns about recreational activities in the river as well as protections for the local wildlife that lives there.
On July 24, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Abbott regarding the barrier, saying that it violates two different sections of the Rivers and Harbor Appropriation Act of 1899. The DOJ claims that the barriers are obstructing navigable waters and flouting approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
This comes as some groups have raised concerns about canoe and kayak activity in the region as well as how the barriers could affect local mussels in the river.
The way that the DOJ and other groups are attacking Abbott’s floating barriers goes to show that these same entities may believe that the barriers may work as intended.
As Todd Bensman, a senior national security fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, said when talking with the Daily Caller News Foundation recently:
“All of these objections stand as evidence that those lodging them know deep down that this marine barrier is going to be highly impactful and an effective game changer on river crossing. If they believed otherwise – that it won’t work – they’d simply go home smirking.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service recently said that it believes two mussel species in the Rio Grande region should be labeled endangered species. The Washington Examiner reported that the agency wants to make Mexican fawnsfoot mussel and Salina mucket mussel both endangered species, as that classification could lead to Texas being forced to take down the floating barriers.
In a statement released recently, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest director, Amy Lueders, said:
“In making this proposed listing determination, the Service carefully assessed the status of the Rio Grande mussels, including the past, present and future threats that they face. Because the single existing populations of both species have low abundance, limited recruitment and no ability to disperse into new areas, they are extremely vulnerable to extinction.”
Despite the Biden administration’s sly attempt to get the buoys taken down this way, local Republicans have seen right through what they’re trying to accomplish. Jodey Arrington, a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Texas, said the concern the Biden administration is all of a sudden showing to the species of mussels is only a “shell game for open border policies.”
In a statement, he said:
“Where was Biden’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s concerns when millions of migrants trampled the mussel’s ‘critical habitat’ while illegally crossing the Rio Grande?”
A private canoe and kayak company also sued the Abbott administration, claiming that the buoys are obstructing their business. The lawsuit, filed by EPI’s Canoe and Kayak Team, reads:
“If Governor Abbott proceeds with installation of the buoys, EPI will be unable to conduct tours and canoe and kayak sessions in Eagle Pass. According to the information to date, portions of Governor Abbott’s buoy floating wall will be installed just south of the International Bridge #2 in Eagle Pass, which is where EPI conducts its business activities.”