Texas Gov. Abbot announces buoy barrier in Rio Grande to combat border crossings

Texas is set to deploy a buoy barrier in the Rio Grande as part of plans to deter migrant crossings, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday.

He shared the news after he signed six bills related to border security. Funding will come from $5.1 billion approved by the state legislature to secure the border. 

“What we’re doing right now, we’re securing the border at the border,” Abbott said. “What these buoys will allow us to do is to prevent people from even getting to the border.”

The first 1,000 feet of buoys will be deployed at Eagle Pass, which Steve McCraw, director of the state’s Department of Public Safety, called “the center of gravity for smuggling.” The first deployment will cost under $1 million and will begin “pretty much immediately.” Officials did not share a more specific number for the cost of the barrier.

Texas Governor Abbott Holds Border Security Bill Signing At Texas Capitol
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw points to an illustration of new border security implementation during a news conference at the Texas State Capitol on June 08, 2023 in Austin, Texas. 

BRANDON BELL / Getty Images

A Texas National Guard member drowned last year in Eagle Pass while attempting to rescue migrants in the river.

“We don’t want people to come across and continue to put their lives at risk when they come between the points of entry,” McCraw said. 

The buoys have been tested by special operators, tactical operators and specialists with Border Patrol, McCraw said. It can be quickly deployed and can be moved as needed.

Officials hope the buoys will act as a deterrent to prevent migrants from entering the water. While there are ways to overcome the buoys, which can range in size, it will take a lot of effort and specialized skills. 

“You could sit there for a couple of days and hold onto it, but eventually you’re going to get tired and want to go back. You’ll get hungry,” McCraw said. 

There will also be webbing going down into the water and anchors to the bottom so people cannot swim underneath. 

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