Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott announced Thursday that the state will deploy a water barrier along the Rio Grande River. Photo courtesy of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott/Twitter
June 9 (UPI) -- Texas will deploy a floating barrier along the the Rio Grande River to deter migrants from entering the state, Gov. Gregg Abbott said, as he unveiled his latest measure to bolster border security amid his feud with the White House over irregular immigration.
Abbott announced the measure Thursday during a press conference where he also signed a half dozen bills related to blocking migrants and asylum seekers from entering Texas.
Photos of the barrier presented during the press conference show it will consist of large round buoys that are closely linked together while they float upon the river.
"What we're doing right now, we're securing the border at the border. What these buoys will allow us to do is to prevent people from even getting to the border," the Republican governor said.
The first 1,000 feet at a cost of less than $1 million will be deployed July 7 in Eagle Pass, where Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said was "the center of gravity for smuggling" in the state.
"We don't want anyone to get hurt. In fact, we want to prevent people from getting hurt. We want to prevent people from drowning. And this is a proactive way," he said.
Concerning whether this method will put the lives of those who still attempt to cross the Rio Grande River at risk, McCraw said the barrier will act as a deterrent.
"Is this going to be a risk to migrants coming across, family units along those lines, and the answer is any time they get into that water it's a risk to the migrants," he said.
Abbott said the barriers will be strategically deployed at areas of concern, with the funding to come from the $5.1 billion the state's Republican-controlled legislature approved for border security.
Webbing will also hang below the barriers to prevent people from swimming under, officials said.
"There are ways to overcome it. It takes great effort. It takes specialized skills and equipment to do it," McCraw said, adding that if one does try to pass the barrier they could "sit there for a couple days and hold onto it, but eventually you're going to get tired and want to go back."
"You'll get hungry," he joked.
"The whole idea though is something we can do quickly, we can put it there and deters large groups of people moving in that area."
Abbott has already employed various measures to keep migrants and asylum seekers out of his state, including deploying the National Guard and lining the Texas-Mexico border with razor wire. The water barrier, Abbott said, adds to this "layering" of deterrents.
The Republican governor has also bussed thousands of migrants captured in his state to Democrat-led cities amid his feud with President Joe Biden, whom he blames for migrants entering the country. Last month, he said they had bused more than 18,500 people to New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.,
"The context is very simple: Washington, D.C., has failed its job to secure our border," he said. "As a result, Texas has had to take unprecedented steps in responding to the crisis caused by the Biden administration on the border."