A lawsuit by a canoe and kayak business aims to sink Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s buoy barrier against illegal aliens in the Rio Grande at the nation’s southern border.
Jessie Fuentes, owner of Epi’s Canoe & Kayak Team LLC, filed the lawsuit Friday, the same day that construction of the buoy barrier began.
Fuentes claims the barrier will cause his rental and instruction business “imminent and irreparable harm,” according to the lawsuit, because he “will be unable to conduct tours and canoe and kayak sessions in Eagle Pass because of the installation of the buoys.”
Abbott, a Republican, responded to news of the lawsuit on Twitter, writing: “We will see you in court. And don’t think the Travis Co. Court will be the end of it. This is going to the Supreme Court. Texas has a constitutional right to secure our border.”
Fuentes’ company provides canoe and kayak rentals and lessons on the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas, the location where the first 1,000 feet of Abbott’s water wall against illegal immigrants is set to be deployed.
“Our client is a small business owner in Texas, who will be impacted by the installation of the buoys,” Carlos Flores, the lawyer representing Fuentes, told The Daily Signal in an email Monday.
“Mr. Fuentes’ lawsuit challenges the governor’s authority to install the buoys under Operation Lone Star because he alleges that the Texas Disaster Act does not provide legal support for Operation Lone Star or the installation of the buoys,” Flores said.
Abbott has sought to secure the border with Mexico through the work of Operation Lone Star, Texas’ border security plan.
Under the governor’s leadership, the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety have been deployed to the southern border, barbed wire fencing now covers sections of the state’s border with Mexico, and additional security measures have been put in place to prevent illegal immigration.
“The state of Texas has the right and the duty to step in and defend itself from threats coming across the border,” Selene Rodriguez, assistant director of federal affairs at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, told The Daily Signal.
“The Rio Grande flows along the Texas-Mexico border for nearly 1,248 miles,” Rodriguez said, adding that Abbott’s “marine barrier is currently proposed for nearly 1 mile.”
“Kayakers and canoers still have plenty options to practice their hobby,” she said, “and as someone who is from the border and enjoys kayaking in the Rio Grande, business will continue.”
Abbott announced deployment of the buoy barrier June 8, saying it would help deter migrants from crossing the river and entering the United States illegally.
“We’re securing the border at the border,” Abbott said during a press conference announcing the floating wall. “What these buoys will allow us to do is to prevent people from even getting to the border.”
The buoy wall also has received criticism from pro-immigration advocates who worry the barrier will lead to drownings.
The buoy barrier is a “chilling reminder of the extreme measures used throughout history by elected leaders against those they do not regard as human beings, seeking only to exterminate them, regardless of the means employed,” Rodolfo Rosales, Texas state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, told CBS News.
Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, has defended the barrier.
“We don’t want anybody to get hurt,” McCraw said, and anytime that migrants “get in that water it’s a risk to the migrants. This is to deter them from even coming in the water.”
Last year “was the deadliest ever for migrants crossing the river,” Rodriguez said, adding:
It’s also dangerous for Texas law enforcement, as a Texas National Guardsman lost his life last summer during a rescue attempt on the river. The buoy system is designed to deter these dangerous and illegal crossings and redirect migrants to safe ports of entry along the Texas-Mexico border.
The federal government has put policies in place that incentivize the flow of illegal immigration into Texas, making it difficult to determine who and what is entering the state while also putting lives at risk. Texas has the right and duty to both protect migrant lives and law enforcement.
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