Rio Grande

Migrants walk by a string of buoys placed on the water along the Rio Grande border with Mexico in Eagle Pass, Texas, on July 15, 2023.

(Photo: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images)

Discovery of Bodies in Rio Grande Barrier Spotlights Abbott's 'Barbaric' Border Policy

Rep. Joaquin Castro accused Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott of "knowingly trying to injure, maim, and kill migrants seeking asylum in the United States with razor wire and drowning devices."

Congressman Joaquin Castro on Thursday led condemnation of what he called Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's "barbaric" border policies after two bodies were found stuck in the buoy barrier placed in the Rio Grande on the U.S.-Mexican border.

Mexican officials said the deceased—one of whom is reportedly a child—were found about three miles from each other on Wednesday near Eagle Pass. According toKUT in Austin, the recovery of the two bodies was led by the migrant protection group Grupos Beta, a service of Mexico's National Migration Institute.

"You don't stop migration by setting death traps"

Sister Isabel Turcios of Casa Dignidad (Dignity House), a migrant shelter across what Mexicans call the Río Bravo in Piedras Negras, told The Dallas Morning News that the second body found was of a Honduran child. Local television reports showed a grieving mother who said she is from Honduras.

"Abbott's buoys are like a trap set for migrants," said Turcios. "This is a terrorizing situation. You don't stop migration by setting death traps... You treat humans like human beings, not like animals."

Castro (D-Texas) accused Abbott—who in June announced the installation of the barrier to deter migrants from attempting what was already a life-threatening river crossing—of "knowingly trying to injure, maim, and kill migrants seeking asylum in the United States with razor wire and drowning devices."

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said that "preliminary information suggests" that one of the victims "drowned upstream from the marine barrier and floated into the buoys" and that "there are personnel posted at the marine barrier at all times in case any migrants try to cross."

According to KUT:

The area around Eagle Pass where the buoys have been installed is a hot spot for border crossings and an already dangerous part of the Rio Grande to cross. There have been 89 deaths and 249 water rescues since 2018, according to an affidavit from the U.S. Border Patrol chief.

Echoing Castro, Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) tweeted: "What Abbott is doing at the border is barbaric. This is a grave violation of human rights. Migrants deserve to be treated with human dignity."

Former Democratic congressman Beto O'Rourke asked, "How many more people will die before our federal government acts?"

Steven Monacelli, a special investigative correspondent for the Texas Observer, said it "seems like this was an inevitable consequence, if not the underlying reason for putting up the buoy barrier in the first place."

Last week, the U.S. Justice Department sued Texas and Abbott, arguing that "this floating barrier poses threats to navigation and public safety and presents humanitarian concerns" and citing "diplomatic protests by Mexico."

The office of Mexican Foreign Secretary Alicia Bárcena—who last month filed a formal complaint over the barrier—issued a statement reiterating "the position of the government of Mexico that the placement of wire buoys by the Texas authorities is a violation of our sovereignty."

"We express our concern about the impact on the human rights and personal safety of migrants that these state policies will have, which run counter to the close collaboration between our country and the federal government of the United States," the ministry added.

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