Governor Greg Abbott Deploys New Plan To Halt Illegal Immigration: Block The Rio Grande

New reports Friday revealed that Texas, under the leadership of Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX), deprived of any real support or enforcement of the border from Washington, D.C., has begun preparations to block illegal immigrants from swimming the Rio Grande through the deployment of a buoy and netting system or floating barrier by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

In what the Associate Press called "the latest escalation of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s multibillion-dollar effort to secure the U.S. border with Mexico," massive bright orange buoys are being hauled to the city of Eagle Pass, situated on the shores of the Rio Grande and the Mexican border.

Abbott tweeted a video of the buoys with the caption, "New marine barrier installation on the Rio Grande begins today. Texas DPS is overseeing the project in Eagle Pass. More to come."

The large spheroid buoys are set to be installed in approximately two weeks, Texas DPS spokesman Lt. Chris Olivarez told the AP, and are merely the surface-level deterrent to swimmers. The buoys are connected to webbing covering a 1,000-foot area in the middle of the river, secured by anchors to the bottom.

According to the AP report, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw was asked in a June press conference about the danger that illegal immigrants could potentially face with the buoys deployed. He responded matter of factly: “Anytime they get in that water, it’s a risk to the migrants. This is the deterrent from even coming in the water.”

McCraw's remarks seemed prescient days later when, over the Fourth of July weekend, four people, one of them an infant, tragically drowned near Eagle Pass, in the unblocked but still incredibly treacherous river.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Gov. Abbott has already been challenged in court over the plan to deter river crossings. A local business owner of a kayak outfitter, Epi’s Canoe and Kayak Team, Jessie Fuentes filed a lawsuit in Travis County seeking to stop the deployment. He claims in the lawsuit, “EPI will be unable to conduct tours and canoe and kayak sessions in Eagle Pass because of the installation of the buoys.”

The move may also run afoul of the Federal International Boundary and Water Commission, a little-known agency with jurisdiction over the demarcation of United States borders and the administration of treaties regarding our borders. A spokesman from the agency indicated that it didn't receive advanced notice of the initiative from Austin about the barrier.

Frank Fisher, the commission's spokesman said in a statement, “We are studying what Texas is publicly proposing to determine whether and how this impacts our mission to carry out treaties between the US and Mexico regarding border delineation, flood control, and water distribution, which includes the Rio Grande."

The governor has made it quite clear though that Texas intends to fight for the barrier all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. In response to the lawsuit, Abbott tweeted, "'Abbott sued over plan to deploy buoys in the Rio Grande.' 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."

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