Texas Governor Greg Abbott received a letter from the Justice Department threatening to sue the state over new immigrant-deterrence measures in the Rio Grande river.
The letter, issued by Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim and U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza, was obtained by NBC News.
“We write to inform you … that the United States intends to file legal action in relation to the State of Texas’s unlawful construction of a floating barrier in the Rio Grande River,” it reads.
The letter claims the buoys violation the Rivers and Harbors Act, endanger public safety, and could interfere with the federal government’s official duties in the area.
It gives the state until 2:00pm Monday to provide a response indicating it would “expeditiously remove” the buoy barrier.
Texas began constructing the buoys this month as part of Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, the governors $4 billion effort to control immigration at the southern border since the Biden administration has taken a lax approach.
The effort also includes busing immigrants to Democrat-led cities which claim to be sanctuary cities, yet some have called for the flow of immigrants to stop citing a lack of resources.
The Justice Department claimed the buoys could increase drowning, saying they obstruct the “navigable capacity” of the river and pose “humanitarian concerns”.
In a tweet issued shortly after the letter was made public, Abbott asserted that Texas has the “sovereign authority” to defend its border.
“We will continue to deploy every strategy to protect Texans and Americans — and the migrants risking their lives,” Abbott wrote. “See you in court, Mr. President.”
Abbott announced the buoy plan in June, calling them another measure to deter illegal border crossing.
“We can put mile after mile after mile of these buoys,” he said. “What we’re doing right now is we’re securing the border at the border. What the buoys will allow us to do is to prevent people from even getting to the border.”
Abbott also said the buoys are much cheaper to install than land-based barriers and they can also be moved in the future as immigration patterns shift.