A few weeks after a federal judge declared a floating barrier in the Rio Grande to be a safety threat, the worst has happened. Here’s the terrible story that unfolded at the border in late September.
Get Rid of It
On September 6, a federal judge ordered Texas Governor Greg Abbott to remove a floating 1000-foot barrier he’d had installed in the middle of the Rio Grande.
Stop the Bleeding
The purpose of the necklace-like buoy was, of course, to discourage or stop Mexican immigrants from crossing the river into the United States.
A Human Hazard
But U.S District Judge David Ezra said that barrier was dangerous for humans.
He had some evidence to back him up, too, because a body had been found near the buoys in August.
Governor Broke the Law
Ezra also noted that the barrier impeded traffic on the waterway and said that blocking that travel actually violated Texas law.
Judge Set a Deadline
Ezra gave Abbott until September 15 to remove the barrier, but that wasn’t the end of the story.
Back in Court
The state took the case to another courtroom the very next day.
And on September 7, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put a hold on the original ruling.
The Float stays…for Now
That meant Abbott can keep his favorite toy in place until the full legal process can play out, whenever that may be.
It Bit Them Hard
It proved to be way too long for one Mexican family on September 20.
The drama unfolded when Tactical Marine Unit troopers were called to the river, with reports of a child being swept away by the currents.
Doesn’t Get Any Worse
The troopers were able to locate the child and transport him to a nearby hospital.
But the toddler was pronounced dead on arrival.
He Was Along for the Ride
As it turned out, the child was a 3-year-old boy whose family was attempting to cross the river.
They Tried to Get Around
The spot they chose to come across was north of Abbott’s barrier, which blocks a more approachable section of the river.
It’s a Huge Sieve
Eagle Pass, where the barrier floats, is one of the most popular crossing points for Mexican immigrants.
In fact, Border Patrol says it ranks second in the state, with about 270,000 in 2023.
The area where the family tried to cross, on the other hand, is well known for having sudden drop offs in depth and surging currents that make it tough for even adults to maintain their footing.
It Looks Inviting
Those dangers aren’t obvious to those who approach on foot, though.
In fact, the water is shallow at the entry point on the Mexican side but gets treacherous in various places along the way.
They Told Him So
And that’s precisely the reason why many of Abbott’s detractors are so opposed to the floating barrier.
While it does its job of reducing crossings there at Eagle Pass, it only makes the situation worse, they say.
Desperate to Find a Way
That’s because many immigrants don’t just turn around when they encounter the barrier. Instead, they head upstream or downstream where there are no blockades.
Into Harm’s Way
And, in many cases, that’s a giant leap right into dangerous waters.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / JACEK SKROK. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.