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Atrocities at the Border

Abbott undermines federal government by refusing to remove floating border wall in the Rio Grande.
Graphic by Zoie Carlile and Will Gaffey

Located just two hours and twenty minutes from San Antonio is the town of Eagle Pass, which sits right on the border between Texas and Mexico. Along the border runs the Rio Grande river, however in recent months, the tensions at the river border have escalated.

On June 8, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the creation of a floating border wall made of buoys and razor wire, designed to keep migrants from crossing the river. The wall was deployed July 7 as part of Operation Lone Star, a $9.6 billion dollar project launched by Abbott to curb criminal activity at the border.

The river wall threatens already fragile U.S-Mexico relations and endangers the lives of many. Further still, it exists in direct violation of U.S. law since Abbott built the wall without consulting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The wall is designed to stop migrants from crossing, but so far, this stain on Texas’ reputation has mostly failed to carry out its primary purpose.

Imagine for a second that you are a South American migrant, and have made a treacherous journey across the Darién Gap, a sixty mile stretch of rainforest, steep mountains, and swampland, that exists as the only overland pathway between South and Central America. You arrive at the border between Texas and Mexico only to be greeted by the razor-topped river wall.

After that journey, no migrant is going to turn around at the sight of a 4-foot wall. Many photographs have been taken of migrants boosting each other over the wall, climbing over it, or simply walking around the barrier, despite the dangers.

While Abbott’s plan may be well intentioned, its results are ineffective and inhumane. Migrants who have already survived a treacherous journey, do not deserve to be met with hostility, dangerously fast knee deep waters, and buoys wrapped in razor wire.

Additionally, upon closer inspection of Operation Lone Star, Abbott’s truly selfish and corrupt motivations are revealed. Under Abbott’s control, there have been nonstop calamities such as a homelessness crisis, a power grid collapse and a ban on public school mask mandates. But I argue that the river wall represents some of Abbott’s worst in terms of total disregard for human rights.

To make matters worse, the atrocities don’t stop at an unfriendly border. In mid-July, an investigation by the Houston Chronicle only further exposed the horrors that the migrants faced at the border. A leaked email sent by the Texas Department of Public Safety described a pregnant woman having a miscarriage while entangled in razor wire, as well as orders from commanders to push large groups of migrants back into the water.

This outrageous violation of human rights is sickening, and shows a lack of compassion from the state government.

In addition to human rights, the river wall poses a serious threat to U.S Mexico relations. The Mexican government sent a diplomatic letter to the U.S on June 26 stating that the river barrier violates a 1944 water treaty.

In a recent press release, Hillary Quam, the State Department’s coordinator for border affairs between the U.S. and Mexico, said that violation of the water treaty could make Mexico feel like “a lesser partner to the United States.”

This is just yet another example of Abbott confusing his position of governor with the position of dictator. No singular person, including Abbott, has the authority to interfere with US-Mexico border relations, plain and simple.

The wall is also highly illegal. Built without the permission of the federal government, Abbott’s monstrosity of a river wall is a gross overreach of power by an avarice Governor. Despite being sued by the U.S. Justice Department, Abbott has refused to take down the wall.

Abbott has gone rogue. He has taken matters into his hands completely unnecessarily and he must be stopped.

In a strongly worded letter Abbott hand-delivered to U.S President Joe Biden, Abbott demands that Biden enforce Congress’ immigration laws. The laws in question, however, were already being enforced.

Biden’s border enforcement plan had already led to the lowest levels of unlawful border crossings in two years, according to a statement by White House spokesperson Abdullah Hasan. Abbott’s actions are in total defiance of this plan, preventing Border Patrol agents from saving migrants who face drowning in the fast-moving river, barring them from doing the job they are professionally and morally obligated to do.

Abbott needs to come to his senses and realize that the wall is hurting everyone, including his own citizens. Texas cannot rest until Abbott is ousted from office and all traces of his oppressive regime, including the river wall, are scrubbed clean.

About the Contributor
Ellie Levy
Ellie Levy, Editorials editor
What are your favorite TV shows/movies? Community and Back To The Future What are your hobbies? Reading, TV, and French Horn What causes are you passionate about? Climate change and child labor regulation