On Friday (July 7), Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the state’s “marine barrier installation” — an installation of buoys that form part of a larger effort to crack down on illegal immigration across the southern U.S. border. The announcement has already sparked criticism from some left-wing groups.
Taking to Twitter, Abbott tweeted that a “New marine barrier installation” was starting on the Rio Grande, adding that the “Texas DPS is overseeing the [Eagle Pass] project,” concluding that there would be more updates on the matter.
The barrier, which includes orange buoys, was first announced by Governor Abbott in June and is intended to deter migrants from attempting to cross the Rio Grande.
The marine barrier is part of Operation Lone Star, an initiative to address the border crisis in the face of what Republicans consider a lack of federal leadership.
It also comes as Abbott faces criticism from those on the left for his actions, which include transporting immigrants to so-called sanctuary states, erecting razor wire along the Texas border, and constructing his own border wall when federal construction by the Biden administration ended.
Texas officials say the new plan will discourage attempts to cross the dangerous river and is expected to reach completion in the next two weeks.
Last month, Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, highlighted that whenever “someone gets in that water,” they’re putting their life in danger, noting that then buoys would deter them from “even getting in the water.”
But critics aren’t convinced.
The move has been met with resistance from environmental groups who held a protest near the border this week, including a prayer for a river.
According to a lawyer for the Texas chapter of the left-leaning Americans Civil Liberties Union, the move is the latest in a series of gifts to private contractors by the state to support the governor’s effort to create a border crisis.
The floating balls won’t do anything about the real reasons why people are crossing into the U.S., David Donatti, a Texas state representative, said, describing the plan as a “blight on the state’s conscious.”
Reporting by the Washington Post also revealed that the barrier would have a webbing layer underneath it to keep people from swimming under it, and it’s expected to cover a 1,000-foot area in the Eagle Pass section of the river.
This deployment comes when border crossings have been relatively quiet compared to the record-breaking levels seen during the pandemic.
According to the Biden administration, the number of border crossings has dropped since Title 42 ended on May 11 and was replaced by a new strategy.