GOP Texas Governor Greg Abbott Moves Ahead with Floating Border Barriers on Rio Grande Despite Liberal Outrage

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced on Friday that the Lone Star State will install its “marine barrier installation” as part of its effort to stop illegal immigration across the U.S. border with Mexico in a move that has brought criticism from left-wing groups. 

“New marine barrier installation on the Rio Grande begins today. Texas DPS is overseeing the project in Eagle Pass. More to come,” tweeted the governor. 

Abbott announced the barrier, which consisted of orange buoys and intended to discourage migrants from crossing the Rio Grande, in June. It is part of a multifaceted operation called Operation Lone Star to tackle the border crisis amid what Republicans say is a vacuum of leadership from the federal government. 

Governor Abbott has caused controversy with several moves, including transporting migrants into the interior to “sanctuary” jurisdictions like Washington, D.C., and New York City, building the state’s border wall, and setting up razor wire after the Biden administration halted federal construction. 

Officials in Texas have said that the latest plan will discourage people from attempting to cross the dangerous river. It is expected to take around two weeks to set up the buoys.

“Anytime they get in that water, it’s a risk to the migrants. This is the deterrent from even coming in the water,” said Steve McCraw, Texas Department of Public Safety director, last month. 

Move has been met with pushback from left-wing groups

The move has been met with pushback from left-wing groups. According to reports from The Associated Press, environmental activists held a demonstration this week along the border, including holding a prayer for the river.

The American Civil Liberties Union in Texas told CNN that the move is “the latest in a chain of gifts from the state to private contractors to fuel the governor’s manufactured crisis at the border.”

“The floating balls will not address the real and important reasons people are coming to the United States. The buoys are a blight on Texas’s moral conscience,” said David Donatti of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Washington Post reported the barrier will include a layer of webbing below it to stop people from swimming underneath it and is expected to span a 1,000-foot stretch of the river near Eagle Pass.

The deployment comes amid a relative lull in border crossings compared to some of the record highs seen during the crisis, which has now stretched into its third year. The Biden administration has touted the sharp drop in encounters since May 11, when Title 42 ended and the new strategy was implemented. However, there were still over 200,000 migrant encounters in May overall. The Biden administration has called on Congress to provide additional funding to pass an immigration reform bill.

But Republicans have balked at the inclusion of an amnesty for millions of illegal migrants already in the United States and have instead said that the Biden administration has incentivized the crisis with its “catch-and-release” policies.