July 10, 2023- Texas has begun rolling out what is set to become a new floating barrier on the Rio Grande on Friday. Gov. Greg Abbott’s multibillion-dollar effort to secure the U.S. border with Mexico.
Abbott broke the news at a ceremony at the Capitol, where he signed six Bills related to border security, including legislation that gives more power to federal agents to arrest and search migrants suspected of committing state crimes, authorizes the use of drones for border surveillance and provides compensation to farmers and ranchers whose land is damaged by migrants.
Steve McCraw, director of the state’s Department of Public Safety, said the first 1,000 feet of buoys are being deployed near Eagle Pass because of an uptick in illegal crossings in the Maverick County area. He said the buoys, which can be moved to other locations as needed, are intended to deter migrants from attempting to cross the river, which is deep and fast-flowing in spots.
During the regular legislative session that ended in May, the Legislature approved $5.5 billion for border security measures. The other three Bills Abbott signed Thursday allow Texas to more easily establish border security partnerships with other states, improve training of local police officers and designate Mexican drug cartels as “foreign terrorist organizations” under state law.
Abbott’s news conference came amid a special legislative session where lawmakers have deadlocked over the governor’s call for property tax relief, but they’re also at odds over his special-session agenda item on border security — and Abbott showed little interest in taking sides Thursday.
Abbott asked lawmakers for legislation increasing penalties for human smuggling, and the two chambers have passed different versions of the proposal. One sticking point is whether to allow a lower minimum sentence if a defendant cooperates with police.
Abbott made clear Thursday he will not budge on his agenda, which calls for only the anti-smuggling Bill.