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Texas prepares to deploy Rio Grande buoys in governor’s latest effort to curb border crossings

by Andrew Wright
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border crossings

Texas is implementing a new measure to address border crossings along the Rio Grande, as part of Governor Greg Abbott’s ongoing efforts to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. The initiative involves the deployment of floating barriers, which were delivered to the city of Eagle Pass amid concerns raised by migrant advocates and environmentalists.

Large orange buoys, stacked on trailers, were transported to a park near the river on Friday. The setup process is expected to take up to two weeks, overseen by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The system will cover 1,000 feet of the Rio Grande, connected with webbing and anchored in the riverbed.

Eagle Pass is located in a Border Patrol sector that has experienced a significant number of migrant crossings this fiscal year, though lower than the previous year. The dynamics of border crossings changed after the Biden administration discontinued the implementation of Title 42, allowing asylum seekers to apply for asylum through a government process. However, Texas Governor Abbott’s policies target those who cross the river illegally due to frustration with the imposed daily cap on asylum applications.

Previous measures implemented by Abbott include installing razor wire at popular crossing points and establishing state checkpoints for inspecting incoming commercial traffic. The governor emphasized the use of effective strategies to secure the border.

Concerns have been raised about the risks faced by people attempting to bypass the new barrier and the environmental impact. Immigrant advocates and a shelter overseen by Sister Isabel Turcios expressed concern about the effects on migration, highlighting that existing concertina wire increases danger for migrants in the river.

The Texas Department of Public Safety Director, Steven McCraw, acknowledged the risks migrants face when entering the water but stated that the floating barrier serves as a deterrent. However, less than a week ago, four individuals, including an infant, drowned near Eagle Pass during an attempted river crossing.

The federal International Boundary and Water Commission, responsible for U.S.-Mexico treaties and boundary delineation, stated that it was not informed in advance about Texas’ floating barrier proposal and is evaluating its impact on their mission.

Environmental advocates from Eagle Pass and Laredo held a demonstration by the border, expressing concerns about the ecological impact and limited access to the river. A local business owner, Jessie Fuentes, filed a lawsuit seeking to halt the use of the buoys, citing the negative impact on his paddling business and the river’s ecosystem.

Adriana Martinez, a professor studying rivers, expressed worry about the potential consequences of the webbing, as objects carried by the river could become entangled and alter water flow.

This report was filed by Coronado from Austin, Texas.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about border crossings

What is Texas doing to curb border crossings?

Texas is deploying floating barriers on the Rio Grande as part of Governor Greg Abbott’s efforts to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. These barriers aim to deter illegal crossings and enhance border security.

What are the concerns raised about the floating barriers?

There are concerns about potential safety risks for migrants, including drowning incidents, as well as the impact on the environment and the river ecosystem. Environmentalists worry about objects getting caught in the buoys and altering water flow.

How has the Biden administration’s policy change affected border crossings?

The Biden administration discontinued the implementation of Title 42, allowing asylum seekers to apply for asylum through a government process. This has led to a shift in crossing dynamics, with Texas Governor Abbott’s policies targeting those frustrated with the daily cap on asylum applications who choose to cross the river illegally.

What other measures has Texas implemented for border security?

Previous measures implemented by Texas include installing razor wire at popular crossing points and establishing state checkpoints for inspecting incoming commercial traffic. Governor Abbott has emphasized employing effective strategies to secure the border.

What is the International Boundary and Water Commission’s role in this?

The International Boundary and Water Commission, responsible for U.S.-Mexico treaties and boundary delineation, was not informed in advance about Texas’ floating barrier proposal. They are evaluating its impact on their mission concerning border delineation, flood control, water distribution, and the Rio Grande.

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