Texas Gov’t Calls Out Mexico’s Gov’t for False Claims that Two Migrants Drowned Because of River Buoy Barrier

Emma Campbell | August 4, 2023
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Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s administration responded Wednesday to “flat-out wrong” claims from the Mexican government that faulted the river buoy barrier for the recent deaths of two migrants attempting to cross the border. 

The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs was the first to inform the public of the deaths and linked them to a buoy barrier in the Rio Grande River that Texas installed in early July to deter illegal migrant crossings. Andrew Mahaleris, a spokesperson for Abbott, responded in a statement on Wednesday claiming that the barrier had nothing to do with the tragic deaths. 

“The Mexican government is flat-out wrong,” Mahaleris said in a statement, according to the Washington Examiner. “To be clear, preliminary information points to the drowning occurring before the body was even near the barriers. The Texas Department of Public Safety [DPS] previously reported to Border Patrol the dead body floating upstream from the barriers in the Rio Grande.” 

The DPS notified the Mexican government about a “lifeless body caught in the southern part of the buoys,” the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in its statement. However, Mahaleris pointed out that they also conceded the second body was found “miles upstream from the marine barriers.” 

Texas DPS Lt. Chris Olivarez said that the person found in the buoys had drowned well before reaching the barrier, and the body had been carried there by the southbound flow of the river. He cited the location of the buoys — a shallow area that is reportedly easy to walk across — as further proof that the drowning could not have occurred there.

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“The water is between knee and waist level,” Olivarez said. “There's no way the body would have drowned there. ... There's nothing in the buoy—no objects, no sharp objects, no wire, no hook.”

The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed in their statement that the border, which covers approximately 20 percent of one mile of the river, is a violation of the nation’s sovereignty. 

“We express our concern about the impact on the human rights and personal safety of immigrants that these state policies will have, which go in the opposite direction to the close collaboration between our country and the United States federal government,” the ministry said. 

Mahaleris argued that the barrier doesn’t pose a safety hazard for crossing the border, referencing the fact that drownings are not uncommon when migrants attempt to illegally cross the border through the river. 

“Unfortunately, drownings in the Rio Grande by people attempting to cross illegally are all too common. As was reported in early July before the marine barriers were installed, four people drowned trying to cross the river,” Mahaleris said. “This is a result of the reckless open border policies of President Biden and President Lopez Obrador…If President Biden and President Lopez Obrador truly cared about human life, they would do their jobs and secure the border.” 

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against Texas last month, claiming that the buoy barrier was unlawful and posed humanitarian concerns.

For Abbott's comments to Fox News on the situation, watch below:


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