McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, of Texas, led a congressional delegation of fellow Democrats to the banks of the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas, this week and declared the buoys placed in the river by the state “barbaric.”
“The state government and (Gov.) Greg Abbott are treating human beings like animals. These are folks who are asylum-seekers who are trying to petition for asylum in the United States and this is how the men, women and children what they’re seeing here when they try to present themselves for asylum. It’s incredibly dangerous. It’s incredibly inhuman and that’s the reason that I’ve said that it’s barbaric,” Castro said Tuesday in a video he released on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
On Tuesday afternoon, Castro held a news conference in Eagle Pass along with U.S. Reps. Sylvia Garcia and Sheila Jackson Lee, of Texas, and Tony Cardenas, of California, along with League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) President Domingo Garcia.
Their visit came after a body was found on the buoys last week drawing criticisms of the structure.
On Wednesday, LULAC’s Garcia said, “This site is ground zero of a real war going on along the border.”
Castro called the 1,000-foot-long string of buoys and razor wire placed on the river’s bank as part of the state’s Operation Lone Star “Rio Grande death traps.”
The federal government has sued the State of Texas to remove the buoys, which they say violate federal river laws.
Abbott has defended the buoys saying they are necessary for Texas to defend its sovereignty from migrants illegally crossing the border from Mexico. He has repeatedly said the federal government has failed to defend the state, which has spent over $5 billion so far on Operation Lone Star.
Texas state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and a member of the Senate Border Security, recently told Border Report the state hopes the federal government will reimburse them for border security costs.
“We’re hoping at some point the federal government will reimburse the State of Texas. This is taxpayer’s money from our state being used to provide border security that ought to be provided by the federal government so we’re looking forward to requesting from Congress to reimburse the State of Texas for the funds that we have spent to provide border security where the government has failed to do so,” Hinojosa said.
Tuesday’s congressional delegation met with local landowners and business leaders in Eagle Pass, including the owner of a kayaking company that has also sued to have the buoys removed.
“Appalled by the ongoing cruel and inhumane tactics employed by @GovAbbott at the Texas border. The situation’s reality is unsettling as these buoys’ true danger and brutality come to light,” Rep. Garcia tweeted.
She described the trip as “heartbreaking” and called Operation Lone Star “cruel and inhumane.”
“The Texas Operation Lone Star program in coordination with DPS is not answering the question of what Texas needs or what America needs. I am glad I was able to see this with my own eyes — we have to stand for America’s values,” Jackson Lee tweeted.
“Behind me, you can see the razor wire. I’m standing in what was a city park. This city park doesn’t exist anymore,” she tweeted in a video. “We’re trying to get answers,” Lee said in a video she posted online.
They complained about asylum-seekers being arrested for criminal trespass in what has been a public park, which recently was signed over by the mayor for the state to use as its staging area for the buoy operation. However, last week the city council revoked that permission.
“The real casualties are not just those refugees apprehended at the border but the essence of compassion and empathy that makes us human. We should be a nation that extends a helping hand to those fleeing violence and persecution, not pushing them back into harm’s way or treating them as criminals,” Domingo Garcia said. “It is possible to secure our borders while respecting the dignity of every individual.”
The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday reported that state officials ignored warnings from the International Boundary and Water Commission, which oversees the river, that placement of the buoys and concertina wire along the banks violates a U.S. treaty with Mexico.
Abbott tweeted his reaction on Tuesday to the story: “What this story doesn’t tell you is that I informed Biden almost a year ago about Texas’s constitutional authority to secure the border. It also ignores the fact that the buoys used by Texas did not cause the drowning.”
Border Report has reached out to Abbott’s office and asked if they ignored warnings. This story will be updated if information is received.