A judge orders Texas to remove buoys on the Rio Grande | International

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A group of migrants walk in July in front of the buoys installed by the Abbott government.Eric Gay (AP)

Strike against Texas' anti-immigration schemes. A federal judge this Wednesday forced the removal of the floating wall that Governor Greg Abbott ordered to be established in the Rio Grande, the natural border between Mexico and the United States. The judicial decision follows months of protests by human rights groups and several voices from Washington and Mexico City that described the barrier as inhumane. President Joe Biden's Administration sued Texas in July for the measure, which it considers unhumanitarian and a risk to the ecosystem. David Ezra, the federal official, has agreed with the Department of Justice and gave the local government until September 15 to raise the buoys. Abbott has announced that he will appeal the decision.

The buoys were deployed in early July in a strip in front of the Texas city of Eagle Pass, which borders Piedras Negras, Coahuila. The Republican governor, Greg Abbott, signed an emergency declaration in June that allowed him to obtain special resources to install them along 350 meters of river. They were large orange spheres surrounded by barbed wire.

The president, one of the most radical in immigration policy, assured that the buoys could help reduce drowning deaths. In reality, the measure was more dangerous. Throughout the summer, local media reported migrants injured by barbed wire. In August, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced the discovery of two bodies floating near the buoys.

These deaths provoked the reaction of the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He described the use of buoys as inhumane. “No one should be treated like this,” he said at one of his morning news conferences. At the same press conference, the president thanked Biden for taking legal action against Abbott.

The wall caused diplomatic friction between Mexico and the border state. The Mexican Foreign Ministry issued a diplomatic note after the installation of the wall. In this, concern was expressed about the measure adopted unilaterally and that violated a treaty in force for more than a century. An international commission also determined that the buoys were in Mexican territory.

Despite being a hostile decision that has strained relations with Washington and abroad, the floating wall finds support among Americans. A survey published in August by the British newspaper Daily Mail He assures that 51% of the population approves of the buoys. Support is even high among Democrats, with four out of ten supporters of the ruling party being in favor of the barrier.

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Governor Abbott has assured that he will appeal the federal judge's decision. “This merely prolongs President Biden's vehement refusal to recognize that Texas has the right to do the work he should be doing,” says the president. Abbott points out in the statement that will continue with other controversial measures, such as the mobilization of troops from the National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety to the border and the installation of “strategic barriers.”

The Border Patrol, which depends on Washington, has reported that the Eagle Pass area remains one of the most problematic areas on the border between Mexico and the United States. In that region, more than 270,000 encounters between border agents and irregular immigrants have been recorded so far this fiscal year (which began in September 2022). It is the second area with the highest migratory flow in the more than 3,000 kilometers of common border. The figure, however, is lower than what was documented in the same period of 2021. According to the Department of Homeland Security, irregular immigration has decreased since the United States lifted Title 42, a pandemic measure that allowed expel immigrants at once.

Inhuman tactics

The buoys are not the only cause for concern in that area. The Texas press made public during the summer a series of emails from DPS doctors stating that “inhumane” tactics are used to contain migration in Eagle Pass.

The documents obtained by The Houston Chronicle They quote a DPS agent informing his superiors that he has received orders to “push arriving people back into the water to return to Mexico” and to deny water to migrants in the area. This despite the high temperatures that have been recorded in Texas since May. The June heat caused a four-year-old girl to faint when the group she came with was forced to return to Mexico.

The minor was just one of several medical emergencies that the Texas department's doctors observed in a seven-hour shift. Another case was that of a man who had a deep wound in his leg caused by the barbed wire of the river buoys. According to the medical report sent to superiors, the migrant was injured when he tried to save a child from getting hooked on the metal cable.

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