EAGLE PASS, Texas — Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX 23) joined a group of legislators in Eagle Pass to see the controversial border buoys recently installed by the Texas government along the Rio Grande.
The buoys at the Texas/Mexico border are part of Governor Abbott's Operation Lone Star policy to prevent illegal immigration.
The barrier was installed in July, and stretches roughly the length of three soccer fields. It is designed to make it more difficult for migrants to climb over or swim under the barrier.
“The question becomes, how do you treat them? Do you treat them as human beings or do you treat them as animals? Because right now, Greg Abbott is treating them like animals," Congressman Castro said.
Rep. Castro and other Democrats have called the barriers inhumane and say they put human lives at risk. Last week, a body was found among the buoys by Mexican authorities. Mexico attributed the death to the danger posed by the buoys, however Texas DPS said the person drowned upriver and the body floated to the buoy area.
“This is something that was completely avoidable,” Castro said Sunday on Inside Texas Politics. “It’s something that many of us warned about in the last few weeks when Gov. Abbott made the decision to put these drowning devices in the river.”
Jesse Fuentes is suing the State over the buoys, claiming they pose a significant risk to his livelihood since he owns Epi's Canoe and Kayak Team. He's also worried about the orange barriers impact on the Rio Grande River's ecosystem.
“The river is my passion but most of all, my culture, my history, that’s who I am here," Fuentes said. “We need to come together as human beings and solve this issue.”
Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Houston took part in the border, expressing a need for the federal government to step up in investigating Operation Lone Star.
“We cannot wait for a 3-5 year court battle while people’s lives are being lost in this river," Garcia said.
The U.S. Justice Department is suing Abbott over the floating barrier. The lawsuit asks a court to force Texas to remove it. The Biden administration says the barrier raises humanitarian and environmental concerns.
The buoys are the latest escalation of Texas’ border security operation that also includes installing razor-wire fencing and arresting migrants on trespassing charges.
Congressman Castro and other leaders gave remarks Tuesday afternoon at press conference from Eagle Pass.
See their full remarks below: