Posted on June 11, 2023

Texas Plans a Floating Barrier in the Rio Grande

Juliana Kim, NPR, June 9, 2023

Gov. Greg Abbott plans to install a stretch of buoys on the river that divides his state and Mexico in an attempt to hinder migrants from crossing into Texas.

The Rio Grande is considered one of the deadliest routes for migrants. Over the years, hundreds of people, including babies and children, have died on the river, mainly from drowning in its turbulent current.

Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, described the floating barrier as a “proactive way” to prevent migrants from putting themselves at risk of drowning. {snip}


But immigrant advocates say that many people who attempt to cross the Rio Grande do so because they know of very few options to reach the U.S.

“Abbott’s latest stunt will make this situation even more dangerous and deadly,” said Mary Miller Flowers, director of policy and legislative affairs at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights.


Abbott’s plan is to place a string of 4-foot-high, bright orange buoys in the middle of the Rio Grande, according to mock images shown at Thursday’s news conference.

The floating barrier will span 1,000 feet — covering a tiny fraction of the 1,254 miles the river spans along the Texas-Mexico border. But the barrier is movable and it will be “deployed strategically” in migrant crossing hotspots, Abbott said.


“When we’re dealing with 100 or 1,000 people, one of the goals is to slow down and deter as many of them as possible,” Abbott said. “Some may eventually get to the border where they are going to face that multi-layered razor wire and a full force of national guard and DPS officers.”


McCraw said the 1,000-foot barrier is only the first installment of the buoys and the measure could be expanded in the future “based upon the threat,” though he did not explain what that threat is.