(The Hill) – A Texas kayaking company has sued Gov. Greg Abbott (R) over his plan to install floating barriers in the middle of the Rio Grande River that would prevent people from being able to swim across it.
Jessie Fuentes, owner of Epi’s Canoe & Kayak Team, filed a suit in Austin, Texas on Friday to stop the state from placing the buoys which he claimed would prevent him from giving tours on the river and cause his company “imminent and irreparable harm.”
The buoy construction near Eagle Pass, Texas, has already forced Fuentes to cancel a number of activities and even prevented his company’s access to the river, he claimed.
Abbott is using a natural disaster declaration to place the buoys in the river as part of “Operation Lone Star,” a power Fuentes is challenging. Construction workers started placing the floating barriers on Friday.
The operation is meant to reduce the flow of undocumented immigrants into Texas, something Abbott has called a “crisis.” Last week, four people drowned while attempting to cross the Rio Grande in the Eagle Pass section of river.
“This strategy will proactively prevent illegal crossings between ports of entry by making it more difficult to cross the Rio Grande and reach the Texas side of the southern border,” Abbott’s office said in a statement last month.
The lawsuit alleges that the buoys unjustly hurt Fuentes’ business and are also unconstitutional.
“A plain reading of the [disaster declaration] reveals as a matter of law that this statute cannot be used to regulate the Texas-Mexico border because none of its definitions address immigrants, the border, or crimes committed by immigrants,” the suit reads.
“The definition of disaster cannot be read so broadly to allow Governor Abbott to create his own border patrol agency to regulate the border and prevent immigrants from entering Texas by installing a buoy system in the Rio Grande,” it continues.
The suit asks a judge to halt the construction of the buoys in the river.
“The Governor proclaims to support law and order, yet he initiated Operation Lone Star without legal authority and seeks to install buoys to score political points without a legitimate public policy objective,” Fuentes’ attorney, Carlos Flores, said in a press release.
Abbott responded on Twitter, pledging to fight the suit.
“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,” he said.