Texas to deploy long string of buoys in middle of Rio Grande in new attempt to deter migrants

Texas is deploying a long string of buoys in the middle of the Rio Grande River in a new effort to deter migrants, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday.

A set of 1,000-foot-long marine floating barriers will be placed in the river near Eagle Pass by July 7, state officials said. Each buoy is approximately four feet in diameter.

If the initial test works, “we can put mile after mile after mile of these buoys” in the water where crossings by large groups of migrants are expected, Abbott said.

The buoys will create “a layering effect”, when combined with accordion wire laid on the bank of the river by the Texas National Guard and quickly mobilized formations of state police and soldiers standing nearby , Abbott said.

“What these buoys will allow us to do is stop people from even getting to the border,” the Republican three-term governor said at a Capitol press conference.

Abbott spoke after signing six border-related bills sent to him by the Legislature during the session that ended on Memorial Day. The measures are in addition to $5.1 billion in the new state budget that is on Abbott’s desk and a bill before lawmakers in their ongoing special session that would impose a jail term. of at least 10 years to migrant smugglers.

Recently signed bills would do things like compensate farmers and ranchers whose land is damaged by migrants, allow the Texas military department to use drones at the border, and declare Mexican drug cartels “foreign terrorist organizations.” “.

Posters posted by the governor showing aerial and close-up photos of the buoys displayed the logo of Cochrane USA, a subsidiary of fencing company Cochrane International.

A set of 1,000-foot-long marine floating barriers will be placed in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, Texas, by July 7 to deter unauthorized migrants, Texas officials said Thursday. Visualization is performed by the manufacturer Cochrane USA.(Catherine Wright/Texas Department of Public Safety)
The cost of the initial deployment to Maverick County will be “less than $1 million,” said Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The buoys and accordion wire that have been used in Abbott’s Lone Star operation for the past two years are mobile, he said.

They can be placed in one location, gathered and then transported and used along another part of the river, McCraw explained.

“It’s something we can do quickly. We can put it there and it will deter large groups of people from moving into that area. We can control it…, with the deployment of barbed wire and a sufficient number of soldi.

The US Border Patrol originated the idea of ​​placing chains of buoys in the river and conducted tests to ensure there was minimal risk of harm to migrants, McCraw said.

Each buoy is approximately four feet in diameter. The photos show an attempt by a swimmer in an inner tube to break the string of buoys.(Courtesy of Texas Department of Pub / TX Department of Public Safety)
When asked if the buoys would help the migrants by providing them with a place to rest before continuing, McCraw said no.

“Because of the water and the buoys, it is very difficult to be able to cross them,” he said. “There are ways to overcome it. But it takes a lot of effort. It takes specialized skills and equipment to do so.

Abbott and McCraw said state officials carefully weighed the safety risks posed by the floating barrier chains.

“We don’t want anyone getting hurt. We actually want to keep people from getting hurt, to keep people from drowning,” McCraw said.