GOP lawmaker seeks to torpedo DOJ efforts targeting Texas’ border buoy barrier

FIRST ON FOX: A Republican lawmaker is introducing legislation that would block the Department of Justice from using the Rivers and Harbors Act to sue states over border security measures after the DOJ used the act to stop Texas building a barrier in the Rio Grande.

Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Texas, introduced the Prevent Aliens Through Rivers of Lands (PATROL) Act that would bar the DOJ from using the act to file a lawsuit against states. The bill currently has 19 co-sponsors, including Republican Texas Reps. Brian Babin, Dan Crenshaw, Chip Roy, Beth Van Duyne and Randy Weber.

Texas set up buoys in July in the Rio Grande due to the ongoing migrant crisis at the Texas-Mexico border. Texas says it is designed to save lives by preventing people from entering the river, but humanitarian groups and the DOJ argue that the barrier poses a safety risk.

JUDGE ORDERS TEXAS TO REMOVE FLOATING BUOUS USED TO CURB FLOW OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

Migrants rest near buoys on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas, on July 20, 2023. (Omar Ornelas- USA TODAY NETWORK)

“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,” the DOJ said in a letter to Abbott before the suit was filed.

The DOJ lawsuit argues that the buoy barrier violates the Rivers and Harbors Act, which protects navigable waters from obstructions and outlines authorities for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

An appeals court ruled last week that Texas must remove 1,000 feet of the barrier, dealing a blow to the Republican-led state’s efforts to keep it in place as the lawsuit goes forward.

Cloud’s bill would prevent the DOJ from using that specific act when launching lawsuits against states.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FILES INJUNCTION AGAINST TEXAS OVER FLOATING BORDER BARRIER IN RIO GRANDE

It marks the latest tension between Republicans and the Biden administration over how to handle the border crisis. Republicans have pushed for more barriers and limits on asylum and other releases into the interior while the administration has called for more funding and comprehensive immigration reform. 

Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Texas, introduced the legislation on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“The Biden administration should be applauding states for working to mitigate the border crisis, not suing them,” Cloud said in a statement to Fox News Digital.  

“Yet, the Biden administration’s willful disregard of our immigration laws continues to enrich and embolden criminals while harming law-abiding Americans. The PATROL Act allows states to build barriers to secure this nation and have more control in keeping their communities safe,” he said. “If Joe Biden and his White House won’t do their jobs, Texas will.”  

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Meanwhile, the fight over border security is ongoing in Congress, with negotiations over the White House’s supplemental spending request for the border, Israel and Ukraine. 

The White House wants $14 billion for border operations, including staffing and migrant care, but Republicans have said there needs to be greater limits on asylum and parole to stop the crisis at the border.

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