Today, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) led a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressing concern about Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s use of floating aquatic barriers on the Rio Grande.
The letter, signed by seven additional Members of the Texas Delegation, comes as these barriers may warrant potential violations of international law.
“Governor Abbott’s installation of floating barriers in the Rio Grande to deter migrant crossings is yet another dangerous stunt that prioritizes political posturing over the safety and well-being of both Texans and migrants,” the lawmakers wrote. “Instead of notifying and collaborating with the appropriate federal agencies – such as the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) - Governor Abbott continues to undermine the federal government by misusing state resources to interfere with federal immigration and security responsibilities. Governor Abbott is not only wasting taxpayer dollars with these stunts (the first segment of the floating barrier is estimated to cost $1 million), he is once again choosing inhumane and dangerous practices that intimidate, endanger, and hurt migrants and their families and put CBP personnel at risk.”
They continued, “Failing to consult with the IBWC and appropriate federal agencies before placing floating devices in a binational body of water, the Rio Grande undermines the agency’s authority as well as their ability to provide binational solutions to many critical issues in our region. Additionally, we believe Governor Abbott’s actions trespasses on IBWC property and may be in violation of the Boundary Treaty of 1970 and the Mexican Water Treaty of 1944. By placing buoys in the Rio Grande, Governor Abbott may be interfering with the natural flow of the river, potentially shifting the boundary between Mexico and the United States causing the United States to cede land to Mexico. The buoys may also violate the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo by obstructing the ability to navigate of the river, which is relied on by both the United States and Mexico.”
“In 2020, following a demonstration of the buoy barrier by its manufacturer, Cochrane, the Department of Homeland Security opted not to purchase the barrier system, citing that it posed a risk to federal law enforcement agents on the ground and increased migrants’ risk of drowning,” the lawmakers added. “Governor Abbott has consistently used his authority as Governor to undermine federal immigration responsibilities, including through Operation Lone Star and his continued bussing of migrants arriving in Texas to large cities around the country, including, most recently, Los Angeles.”
“Installing the aquatic barriers will undermine and impact the work of the IBWC, USACE, put asylum seekers’ lives at risk, and impede CBP’s operations. We urge the DOJ and DOS to take immediate action regarding this matter and the potential violations and obstructionism,” the lawmakers concluded.
The letter is signed by Representatives Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), Colin Allred (TX-32), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Greg Casar (TX-35) Marc Veasey (TX-33), Al Green (TX-9), and Joaquin Castro (TX-20).