Rio Grande buoys installed by Texas ordered to be removed as overwhelmed Arizona border crossing closes

Texas must remove 1,000 feet of floating barrier along the Rio Grande meant to keep migrants from illegally crossing near Eagle Pass, a U.S. appeals court ruled Friday. 

The decision came as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Lukeville, Arizona, southwest of Tucson, decided to close its port of entry after being overwhelmed by migrants coming into the state. 

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2-1 Texas decision, in which it upheld a federal judge’s ruling, was seen as a win for the Biden administration. 

The U.S. Department of Justice sued Texas in July, claiming the buoys placed in the river block navigation, are unsafe and violate the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act, which requires approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for navigable waters. 

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In September, U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra ordered Texas to remove the barriers.

Texas Gov. Greg Abott called Friday’s decision “clearly wrong.” 

“The 5th Cir. Court of Appeals’ denial of Texas’ sovereign authority to secure the border with floating marine barriers is clearly wrong,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “AG Paxton & I will seek an immediate rehearing by the entire court.”

He added that they would go to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary to “protect Texas from Biden’s open borders.”

Eagle Pass is part of a Border Patrol sector that has seen the second-highest number of migrant crossings this fiscal year. 

In Arizona, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it is “surging all available resources to expeditiously and safely process migrants” in Lukeville and will “continue to prioritize our border security mission as necessary in response to this evolving situation.”

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The temporary border closure is expected to start on Monday so officials can process migrants who have already crossed through the port of entry as it has become a major migration route in recent months. 

Most of the migrants walk through gaps in the border wall in the area seeking asylum and smugglers are increasingly leaving migrants from countries including China, India and Senegal in the area.

“The U.S. is continuing to see increased levels of migrant encounters at the Southwest Border, fueled by smugglers peddling disinformation to prey on vulnerable individuals and encourage migration,” CBP said in a statement earlier this week. “As we respond with additional resources and apply consequences for unlawful entry, the migration trends shift as well. We continue to adjust our operational plans to maximize enforcement efforts against those noncitizens who do not use lawful pathways or processes such as CBP One.”

In October, 3,140 people drove to the crossing and 184 pedestrians entered every day, according to the U.S. Transportation Department.

People can still cross through Nogales and San Luis, Arizona, three hours east and two hours west of Lukeville. 

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On Monday, CBP also closed one of two vehicle bridges in Eagle Pass, Texas. 

Fox News’ Bradford Betz, Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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