Gov. Greg Abbott says he plans to implement a wall of security buoys in the Rio Grande River.
Abbott made the comment during a ceremony in which he signed six other legislative measures he says would increase the authority of Texas and U.S. Border Patrol agents to crack down on Mexican drug cartels.
“The Texas Legislature has stepped up to make sure we continue to robustly respond to President Biden’s growing border crisis, including allocating $5.1 billion for border security,” Abbott said during the bill signing on Thursday.
The measures Abbott signed would mainly increase penalties for smugglers since––according to Senate Bill 1900––Mexican drug cartels are now classified as foreign terrorist groups.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, the security buoys––patented and manufactured by engineering corporation Cochrane––will be implemented across a 1,000 foot stretch of the Rio Grande River near Eagle Pass by the beginning of July.
Texas will deploy new marine floating barriers to deter illegal border crossings between ports of entry.
We continue to hold the line in Biden’s absence. pic.twitter.com/22kAarVBaY
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 9, 2023
“It’s dangerous to cross between ports of entry, and securing the border between them is ideal to fight Mexican cartels,” Steve McCraw said in an interview on Thursday. “Our mission is to detect and interdict transitional criminal activity and create proactive strategies to combat it. It’s dangerous to cross between ports of entry, and securing the border between them is ideal to fight Mexican cartels.”
For McCraw, Rio Grande River buoys are the first step to securing the Texas border. But for Texans, the efforts are not enough.
Texans doubt Cochrane’s promise that “deterrence saves lives,” and they are ready to put it to the test.
When asked what would stop people from swimming under the buoys, McCraw was unable to provide a clear answer, further bringing the efficiency of the buoys into question.
President of Texans for Strong Borders Chris Russo expressed his disenchantment by saying implementation of physical barriers is just one piece to a larger puzzle.
“Ultimately, static barriers alone will not solve the problem of crossings between ports of entry,” Russo told Texas Scorecard. “If Governor Abbott deploys state personnel to directly repel crossings in addition to this, it could prove an effective solution.”
While no order was signed to send more troops to the Texas border, Abbott did expand the rights of Border Patrol officials. SB 602, which takes effect September 1, expands U.S. Border Patrol authority to officers who complete a DPS training program that includes making arrests, searches, and seizures at border checkpoints, as well as points of entry, for felony offenses under Texas law.
“Texas has pushed back against the swell of migrants and held the line to keep people out of Texas—but there’s more that needs to be done,” said Abbott.
Despite Abbott and the Texas Department of Public Safety taking steps to reinforce the southern border of Texas, there is still much more to be done.