Texas is installing giant buoys with underwater netting in the Rio Grande to prevent migrants from illegally crossing into the United States.
"What these buoys will allow us to do is to prevent people from even getting to the border," Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said last month.
The first buoys hit the water Monday afternoon, Houston Chronicle reporter Jeremy Wallace said. A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety said setting up the barriers could take up to two weeks, according to the Associated Press. The outlet said the buoys and netting, anchored to the riverbed, will cover 1,000 feet of the river near Eagle Pass, where Border Patrol has seen the second-highest migrant crossing numbers this year.
The new measures come as border states remain overwhelmed by the migrant crisis. More than 4.6 million migrants have been apprehended crossing illegally since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, according to Reuters, though the number includes repeat crossers. Border Patrol reported more than 67,000 apprehensions and 15,780 gotaways in one week in May alone. Migrant detentions at the border have decreased since the pandemic-era Title 42 immigration restriction was lifted on May 11.
Texas governor Greg Abbott (R.) tweeted a video of the buoys on Friday, saying the "new marine barrier installation on the Rio Grande begins today."
"Abbott putting buoys & nets in the middle of the Rio Grande, almost certainly illegal & increases likelihood of drowning in addition to ecological damage," said former Democratic congressman and failed presidential and Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke in a Monday tweet. "So bad, the idea was even rejected by Trump administration. Now it’s actually happening. Where is Biden administration?"