The Justice Department is asking a federal judge to order Gov. Greg Abbott to remove a floating barrier that Texas placed in the Rio Grande River while a lawsuit on the matter is litigated.
In a 25-page filing Wednesday, federal prosecutors said that a preliminary injunction was needed to prevent "irreparable harm" to foreign relations, public safety and navigation.
They also asked that the judge block Texas, which installed the barrier to deter migrants from crossing into the United States, from building additional unauthorized structures while the case is considered.
“No relief granted at the end of this case would make up for the continuing threat to navigation and public safety that the Floating Barrier will impose while the parties litigate the merits,” prosecutors wrote.
The request comes after the Justice Department filed a civil suit on Monday alleging that Abbott violated federal law by installing the barrier.
In the new filing, the Justice Department maintained that the case involves a “straightforward violation” of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which bars the unauthorized creation of any obstruction to the navigable capacity of the nation’s waters, an argument that Abbott has rejected as inapplicable to his state's action.
They further argued that the river is used by several federal agencies and obstructing it “poses risks to health and public safety” by impeding travel across it and “forcing vessels to maneuver around it to avoid collision or entanglement.”
Federal prosecutors also alleged that the barrier is harmful to U.S.-Mexico relations, adding that Mexico "has raised humanitarian concerns regarding possible loss of life to persons swimming in the Rio Grande."
NBC News has reached out to the Mexican Embassy in Washington for comment.
A spokesperson for Abbott, Renae Eze, said that Texas had no plans of backing down.
“We will fight this case all the way to the United States Supreme Court to protect Texas’ constitutional authority to deny illegal entry into our state,” Eze said in a statement Wednesday after the Justice Department's request for an injunction.
The governor's office announced in June that Abbot would deploy "new marine floating barriers" to deter migrant crossings in "hotspots" along the Rio Grande River. He has accused the Biden administration of attempting to cripple his state’s “sovereign interest” in securing its border.
The floating barrier is the latest in Abbott's ongoing battle with the Biden administration over immigration policy.
Last month, Abbott sent 42 migrants by bus to Los Angeles and accused Biden in a statement of failing to step up "to do his job and secure the border,” which he said led him to transport more than 21,000 migrants from Texas to cities across the country since last year.