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Body found at buoy barrier Texas set up on Rio Grande, Mexico says


Mexico City — The Mexican government reported for the first time Wednesday that a body was spotted along the floating barrier that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott installed recently in the Rio Grande, across from Eagle Pass, Texas.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department said authorities recovered the body but didn’t know the person’s identity or cause of death.

Many have warned about the danger the barrier poses because it’s designed to make it more difficult for migrants to climb over or swim under it.

Texas Installs Buoy Barrier On Rio Grande River To Deter Migrants
A string of buoys used as a border barrier on the Rio Grande River at Eagle Pass, Texas, is seen on July 13, 2023.

Jordan Vonderhaar / Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Texas state trooper raised internal concerns about the barrier diverting migrants, including children, into parts of the Rio Grande where they’re more likely to drown. 

The barrier was installed in July and stretches roughly the length of three soccer fields.

The department said Mexico had warned about the risks posed by the bright orange, wrecking ball-sized buoys on the Rio Grande. It also claimed the barrier violates treaties regarding the use of the river and violates Mexico’s sovereignty.

“We made clear our concern about the impact on migrants’ safety and human rights that these state policies would have,” the department said in a statement. Mexico said it was officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety that notified Mexico’s consulate in Eagle Pass Tuesday about the body.

The U.S. Justice Department is suing Abbott over the floating barrier. The lawsuit asks a court to force Texas to remove it. The Biden administration says the barrier raises humanitarian and environmental concerns.

The buoys are the latest escalation of Texas’ border security operation that also includes razor-wire fencing and arresting migrants on trespassing charges.

The state trooper’s internal complaint raised concerns about Texas’ border initiative, known as Operation Lone Star. The trooper described migrants being cut by the razor wire, and directives to push families back into the Rio Grande. 

Migrant drownings occur regularly on the Rio Grande. Over the Fourth of July weekend, before the buoys were installed, four people, including an infant, drowned in the river near Eagle Pass.

A Biden administration official told CBS News last month that the floating barriers have interfered with Border Patrol efforts to patrol the river and process migrants who reach U.S. soil. In one week, the official added, Border Patrol encountered dozens of injured or drowned migrants, including babies.

Once migrants are on the U.S. side of the border which, in Texas, falls in the middle of the Rio Grande,  federal law requires Border Patrol officials to process them and decide whether they should be deported, transferred to another agency, detained or released. The law also requires federal officials to review the asylum claims of those who ask for refuge. State officials aren’t authorized to enforce these laws.

Over the past two years, Abbott, a Republican, has engaged in a high-profile feud with President Biden, a Democrat, over how the federal government has handled a historic migration wave along the U.S.-Mexico border, where Border Patrol recorded an all-time high in apprehensions in 2022.

Unlawful entries along the southern border in June plunged to the lowest level since the start of the Biden administration, defying predictions that the end of a pandemic-era order known as Title 42 would fuel a massive spike in unauthorized migration to the U.S. 

Biden administration officials have attributed the sharp reduction in illegal border crossings to its unprecedented efforts to expand opportunities for migrants to enter the U.S. with the government’s permission, as well as its stricter asylum rules for those who don’t apply for these programs.

“Governor Abbott’s dangerous and unlawful actions are undermining our effective border enforcement plan and making it hard for CBP to do their jobs of securing the border,” White House spokesperson Abdullah Hasan said in a statement. “The governor’s actions are cruel and putting both migrants and border agents in danger.”  


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