Body Discovered in Rio Grande Barriers

( – Mexican authorities say that two bodies have been found in the Rio Grande, including one that was adjacent to floating barriers that were installed to prevent migrants from illegally crossing into Texas. The barriers were placed in the river in July on orders from Governor Greg Abbott with the stated goal of protecting Texas sovereignty.

Mexico’s Department of Foreign Relations appeared to anticipate the deaths. In an August 2 statement, the department said they had already warned about risks that were posed to “migrant’s safety” and the “impact” the buoys would have on their “human rights.” It further stated that the obstacle infringes on Mexico’s sovereignty and that it violates treaties regarding the usage of the Rio Grande.

The U.S. Justice Department is suing Governor Abbott in an effort to force the state to remove the obstacle. The department has said the barrier presents both environmental and humanitarian concerns.

Abbotts’ barrier sits across from the town of Eagle Pass and is approximately 1,100 feet long. It is designed to discourage crossing by making it harder to crawl over or swim beneath.

The Texas Dept. of Public Safety discounted assertions that the barrier was to blame for one of the deaths. Director Steve McGraw said initial reports showed that the migrant in question had “drowned upstream” and later “floated” downstream into the barriers.

Migrant drownings on the Rio Grande are not a novel occurrence. CNN reported that four people, including an infant, died on the river in early July. The drownings took place before the Texas barrier was installed.

In September 2022, NPR reported that over 800 illegal immigrants had died that year while attempting to cross into the United States. The Eagle Pass fire chief estimated at the time that there was about one drowning death per day in his jurisdiction. U.S. government numbers for 2021 showed that at least 560 migrants died during their attempted crossings.

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