Out of the Rio Grande, a 'Troubling' Report

Mexican officials say 2 bodies have been found along Texas' controversial floating barrier
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2023 6:46 AM CDT
Report: 2 Bodies Found Along Texas' Floating Barrier
A kayaker walks past large buoys being used as a floating border barrier on the Rio Grande on Tuesday in Eagle Pass, Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Despite warnings over possible dangers, as well as a lawsuit from the Justice Department, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hasn't budged on removing the floating barrier in the middle of the Rio Grande, part of his state's efforts to keep migrants from crossing over from Mexico. Now, two bodies have reportedly been discovered along the barrier, with the Mexican government reporting it has recovered one of the bodies. The nation's foreign affairs department says it's not clear how the person died or what nationality they were, per the AP and CBS News. Mexico says the Texas Department of Public Safety made the discovery on Tuesday and contacted the Mexican Consulate in Eagle Pass, on the American side of the border.

Mexico's National Institute of Migration then reported on Wednesday that a second body had been spotted, identity and cause of death also unknown, per ABC News. The floating barrier, erected last month over the objections of migrant advocates, features huge orange buoys the size of wrecking balls and stretches the length of three soccer fields. The structure is difficult to climb over or swim under, raising concerns that those trying to cross could drown. The Biden administration has also said the barrier causes environmental issues and stymies Border Patrol efforts to monitor migrant crossings, while Mexico claims it violates river treaties and Mexico's sovereignty.

"We express our concern about the impact on the human rights and personal safety of migrants that these state policies will have, which go in the opposite direction to the close collaboration between our country and the federal government of the United States," read a Wednesday statement from Mexico's foreign affairs secretary, per KTRK. A spokesperson for the US Department of Homeland Security, reacting to the report of the first body, called it "troubling" and pushed for a full investigation. "We can both enforce our laws and treat human beings with dignity," the rep noted.

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Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that Texas lawmakers received a joint letter on Tuesday from five dozen groups calling for "violent border strategies" to cease, according to the Border Network for Human Rights. There have been migrant drownings in the river even before the buoys were installed, as recently as Fourth of July weekend, when four people drowned, including a baby. The floating barrier is just one part of Texas' controversial Operation Lone Star, a border initiative that includes razor-wire fencing and arresting migrants for trespassing. Abbott's office hasn't yet commented on the reports about the bodies. (More Rio Grande stories.)

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