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As part of Texas' aggressive response to migration at the U.S. southern border, buoys have been placed in river waters, causing safety concerns.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's controversial push to mitigate migration at unofficial U.S. entry points at the U.S.-Mexico border has recently sounded alarms about major risks to human safety.
The aggressive initiative launched in March 2021 was labeled Operation Lone Star, and state agencies have recently been seen placing large round buoys in waterways along the Southern border, raising concerns about the lives of people moving across those areas.
Texas state Rep. Joaquin Castro released a video showing a visit to an area along the U.S.-Mexico border called Eagle Pass.
Rep. Castro said he saw clothing caught in razor wire, where he says families were trapped.
Castro described what he called "chainsaw devices" put in the middle of the large spherical buoys floating in the water. Castro called what he saw "barbaric," accusing Texas Gov. Abbott of making U.S. border communities "collateral damage," and said land has been "seized" from U.S. citizens.
In the two-minute video, Castro called the buoys in the Rio Grande river "barrel traps" as he walked over to direct attention toward razor wire which could be seen lining the water's edge on the river.
In the video he accused Abbott's administration of treating migrants like "animals."
The Texas Tribune reported that an unidentified body was found stuck to one of the buoys last week, between Eagle Pass and the Mexican city of Piedras Negras. The Mexican government wasn't immediately able to identify the person, or their nationality.
The Dallas Morning News reported another body found near the buoys. A shelter in Mexico said it was that of a young man from Honduras.
On Tuesday, Castro called the buoys "drowning devices" and "death traps" during an interview with CNN.
He said that while devices are being called buoys, he signaled that the term might be a way to dilute the risks they cause.
"These things are clearly meant to injure and to hurt and to kill people," Castro said.
"If Gov. Abbott won't listen to his constituents, and bring this cruelty to an end, the federal government needs to step in with the full force of its authority. The Biden administration promised to bring humanity back to America's asylum system. But, what we've seen here in Eagle Pass today is the definition of inhumanity," Castro said during a press briefing.
It did not appear that the White House had responded to Rep. Castro's calls for action by Tuesday afternoon. President Joe Biden was in Arizona on Tuesday promoting his Inflation Reduction Act.
In July Biden's Justice Department sued Gov. Abbott over the buoys on the Rio Grande, calling it an aggressive tactic by Republicans to stop migrants from crossing into the United States from Mexico.
Gov. Abbott's office said that by this summer, Operation Lone Star's multi-agency effort apprehended over 390,500 migrants and made over 30,800 arrests that lead to criminal charges. More than 28,700 people apprehended thorough Abbott's aggressive push were charged with felony counts. The Texas government said more than 421 million doses of fentanyl had been seized.
An investigation reported on by the Texas Tribune and released by ProPublica and The Marshall Project said claims of success with Operation Lone Star by the Abbott administration were based on "shifting metrics" and included data from work done by state troopers in targeted areas before the operation.
The report found that "arrest and drug seizure efforts" did not "clearly distinguish" between roles of some agencies and those of others.
The investigation also found that some metrics "included crimes with no connection to the border," The Texas Tribune reported.
Mexican officials agreed to deport migrants from their border cities and return them to their home countries.
The southwest border saw 2.2 million migrant encounters this fiscal year, closing in on last year's 2.4 million.
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Those returning will be provided water, shade, washing stations, portable toilets, medical and mental health care, and transportation assistance.
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