Workers in Texas have begun installing a floating barrier along the Rio Grande in an effort to deter migrants from crossing the dangerous river to enter the US illegally.
“The buoys have arrived and the installation of the marine barrier on the Rio Grande begins today,” read a tweet posted by the Texas Department of Public Safety on Friday.
The first 1,000-foot section of interconnected 4-foot-wide sphere buoys – that spin when grabbed – is being installed near Eagle Pass, Texas, a hot spot for illegal border crossings.
The floating barrier is designed to be moved and extended to cover other parts of the Rio Grande if necessary, according to Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
“New marine barrier installation on the Rio Grande begins today. Texas DPS is overseeing the project in Eagle Pass,” Abbott wrote on Twitter Friday.
The governor’s tweet included a video showing dozens of the bright orange buoys being taken off multiple flatbed trucks.
This new barrier is part of Operation Lone Star – a state border security effort launched by the governor in 2021.
The water-based barrier, designed by the company Cochrane USA, will cost the state $1 million, according to Texas Department of Public Safety director Steve McCraw.
Last month, McCraw said he believes the barrier will prevent migrants from even attempting to cross the waters of the roughly 328-foot-wide river, known to be home to numerous alligators.
“We don’t want anybody to get hurt,” McGraw said.
“In fact, we want to prevent people from getting hurt, prevent people from drowning.”
Earlier this week, law enforcement officers in Texas pulled the bodies of four drowned migrants, including an infant, out of the Rio Grande.
None of the victims possessed identifying documents and their identities remain unknown, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety official.
Last year was the deadliest so far for migrants crossing the US-Mexico border, with at least 748 people dying attempting to illegally cross into the US, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Attempts to rescue drowning migrants are also plagued with danger.
A 22-year-old Texas Army National Guard member drowned last year while attempting to rescue migrants crossing the Rio Grande.
Water rescues are considered so dangerous that US Border Patrol agents are not authorized to jump in if they see a person drowning in the Rio Grande.
They must call in specially trained agents with special equipment for water rescues.
David Donatti, an attorney for the ACLU of Texas, told CNN this week that the buoys will not address the reasons migrants are attempting to get into the US.
“The floating balls will not address the real and important reasons people are coming to the United States. The buoys are a blight on Texas’s moral conscience,” Donatti said.