The Department of Justice (DOJ) is suing Texas Governor Greg Abbott (Texas) for using marine buoys to prevent migrants from crossing the Rio Grande River to enter America illegally.
The suit, filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, alleges the buoy barrier violates the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act, which prevents wharves, piers and other structures from blocking navigable rivers without federal approval.
“Texas will see you in court, Mr. President,” vowed Abbott in a letter challenging the DOJ’s allegations. In addition to denying the buoys violate the Rivers and Harbors Act, Abbott asserts it’s within his power as governor to reinforce Texas’ borders.
This latest salvo in the nationwide battle over immigration policy has been foreshadowed for years.
The contested buoy blockade is part of an immigration initiative launched by Abbott in 2021 — Operation Lone Star — that has reportedly led to the apprehension of more than 390,500 illegal immigrants, 28,700 felony arrests and the confiscation of more than 421 million fatal doses of fentanyl.
Despite scorching criticism and political pressure, the governor has remained a stalwart proponent of strong borders, writing the White House a total of three times since November concerning the rise illegal immigration over Texas’ Southwestern border.
Meanwhile, the DOJ has started to crack-down on states’ efforts to stem the flow of illegal migrants. It sued Arizona Governor Doug Ducey in December for using stacked shipping containers to fill gaps in its border, especially around high-traffic crossings like Yuma.
In Monday’s press briefing, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that illegal immigration decreased since Title 42 — a temporary measure implemented in 2020 to stop the spread of COVID-1 — was repealed in May, showing the White House immigration plan was working.
Jean-Pierre is likely referring to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistic showing the total encounters between agents and migrants at the Southwest land border in fiscal year 2023 are trending lower than encounters in 2020 and 2021. However, this statistic includes Title 42 expulsions which allowed CBP agents expanded authority to stop some legal immigrants from entering the country. It makes sense that total encounters would be down in 2023 compared to the last two years because CBP agents are no longer rejecting immigrants on Title 42 grounds.
To measure illegal immigration, the CBP measures the number of migrants apprehended under Title 8 — our normal immigration laws. This statistic reveals that illegal immigration is up 28.5% from fiscal year 2019.
As the Daily Citizen has previously reported, illegal immigration is brutally injurious to families and children. The International Labor Organization states that illegal migrants and children are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking — including forced labor, sex trafficking and forced marriage — because they do not feel they can turn to law enforcement for help. Of the estimated 49.6 million people being trafficked on any given day, a disproportionate amount are migrants and 12.3 million are children.
This year, CBP agents have encountered 98,649 unaccompanied minors at the Southwestern border — an almost 80% increase from 2020. By some government estimates, as many as 80% of these children are victims of trafficking. An untold number of victimized migrants and children have tried to enter America as part of one of the 428,500 family units encountered by CPB agents in 2023, an 86% increase from 2020.
Illegal immigration also harms the families left behind. Illegal migrants face innumerable social and environmental dangers on their journey north, including severe heat, risk of drowning, dehydration and violence from human smugglers. In addition to the trauma suffered by families who lose loved ones, smugglers have been known to torture single migrants to extort money from their families. A form of trafficking, the ripple effects of “debt bondage” affects families hundreds of miles away from the border.
Some, including the Human Trafficking Institute, argue that high rates of injury and trafficking among illegal immigrants at the Southwest border should encourage America to adopt more lenient immigration policies. Critics like the Heritage Foundation, on the other hand, argue lax policies and enforcement have led to a spike in illegal immigration by incentivizing the dangerous journey.
Though we may quibble over policy specifics, two facts are clear: Illegal immigration is harmful and it’s on the rise. As citizens and members of the body of Christ, we should pray for the safety of those that attempt to enter the country illegally and vote to ensure our policies do not inadvertently incentivize such an injurious practice.
Make no mistake: Illegal immigration harms everyone involved, and it shouldn’t be tolerated.
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Photo from Getty