• #Texas prepares to deploy #Rio_Grande buoys in governor’s latest effort to curb border crossings

    Texas began rolling out what is set to become a new floating barrier on the Rio Grande on Friday in the latest escalation of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s multibillion-dollar effort to secure the U.S. border with Mexico, which already has included bussing migrants to liberal states and authorizing the National Guard to make arrests.

    But even before the huge, orange buoys were unloaded from the trailers that hauled them to the border city of Eagle Pass, there were concerns over this part of Abbott’s unprecedented challenge to the federal government’s authority over immigration enforcement. Migrant advocates voiced concerns about drowning risks and environmentalists questioned the impact on the river.

    Dozens of the large spherical buoys were stacked on the beds of four tractor trailers in a grassy city park near the river on Friday morning.

    Setting up the barriers could take up to two weeks, according to Lt. Chris Olivarez, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety, which is overseeing the project.

    Once installed, the above-river parts of the system and the webbing they’re connected with will cover 1,000 feet (305 meter) of the middle of the Rio Grande, with anchors in the riverbed.

    Eagle Pass is part of a Border Patrol sector that has seen the second highest number of migrant crossings this fiscal year with about 270,000 encounters — though that is lower than it was at this time last year.

    The crossing dynamics shifted in May after the Biden administration stopped implementing Title 42, a pandemic era public health policy that turned many asylum seekers back to Mexico. New rules allowed people to seek asylum through a government application and set up appointments at the ports of entry, though the maximum allowed in per day is set at 1,450. The Texas governor’s policies target the many who are frustrated with the cap and cross illegally through the river.

    Earlier iterations of Abbott’s border mission have included installing miles of razor wire at popular crossing points on the river and creating state checkpoints beyond federal stops to inspect incoming commercial traffic.

    “We always look to employ whatever strategies will be effective in securing the border,” Abbott said in a June 8 press conference to introduce the buoy strategy.

    But the state hasn’t said what tests or studies have been done to determine risks posed to people who try to get around the barrier or environmental impacts.

    Immigrant advocates, including Sister Isabel Turcios, a nun who oversees a migrant shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, which sits just across the river from Eagle Pass, have remained vigilant about the effects of the new barrier on migration. Turcios said she met with the Texas Department of Public Safety in the days leading up to the arrival of the buoys and was told the floating barrier would be placed in deep waters to function as a warning to migrants to avoid the area.

    Turcios said she is aware that many of the nearly 200 migrants staying in her shelter on any given day are not deterred from crossing illegally despite sharp concertina wire. But that wire causes more danger because it forces migrants to spend additional time in the river.

    “That’s more and more dangerous each time ... because it has perches, it has whirlpools and because of the organized crime,” Turcios said.

    Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw addressed the danger that migrants may face when the buoys are deployed during the June press conference when Abbott spoke: “Anytime they get in that water, it’s a risk to the migrants. This is the deterrent from even coming in the water.”

    Less than a week ago — around the Fourth of July holiday — four people, including an infant, drowned near Eagle Pass as they attempted to cross the river.

    The federal International Boundary and Water Commission, whose jurisdiction includes boundary demarcation and overseeing U.S.-Mexico treaties, said it didn’t get a heads up from Texas about the proposed floating barrier.

    “We are studying what Texas is publicly proposing to determine whether and how this impacts our mission to carry out treaties between the US and Mexico regarding border delineation, flood control, and water distribution, which includes the Rio Grande,” Frank Fisher, a spokesperson for the commission, said in a statement.

    On Friday morning, environmental advocates from Eagle Pass and Laredo, another Texas border city about 115 miles (185 kilometers) downriver, held a demonstration by the border that included a prayer for the river ahead of the barrier deployment.

    Jessie Fuentes, who owns a canoe and kayaking business that takes paddlers onto the Rio Grande, said he’s worried about unforeseen consequences. On Friday, he filed a lawsuit to stop Texas from using the buoys. He’s seeking a permanent injunction, saying his paddling business is impacted by limited access to the river.

    “I know it’s a detriment to the river flow, to the ecology of the river, to the fauna and flora. Every aspect of nature is being affected when you put something that doesn’t belong in the river,” Fuentes said.

    Adriana Martinez, a professor at Southern Illinois University who grew up in Eagle Pass, studies the shapes of rivers and how they move sediment and create landforms. She said she’s worried about what the webbing might do.

    “A lot of things float down the river, even when it’s not flooding; things that you can’t see like large branches, large rocks,” Martinez said. “And so anything like that could get caught up in these buoys and change the way that water is flowing around them.”



    #mur_flottant #frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #USA #Etats-Unis #barrières_frontalières #barrière_flottante

    En #Grèce...
    Grèce. Le « #mur_flottant » visant à arrêter les personnes réfugiées mettra des vies en danger

    • Gov. Abbott is destroying the Rio Grande for a fearmongering photo-op.

      Miles of deadly razor-wire have been deployed to ensnare & impale border crossers. Bobcats, bear, mule deer & other wildlife will also be cut off from their main source of water.


      #fil_barbelé #barbelé

    • Un mur flottant équipé de « scies circulaires » à la frontière américano-mexicaine

      Des vidéos diffusées sur les réseaux sociaux le 8 août 2023 permettent d’observer de plus près la barrière frontalière flottante installée par le gouverneur du Texas, Greg Abbott, et destinée à empêcher les migrants clandestins d’entrer aux États-Unis. Ces installations controversées, près desquelles un corps a récemment été retrouvé, sont équipées de disques métalliques pointus fabriqués par Cochrane Global.

      Quand le gouverneur du Texas, Greg Abbott, a annoncé le 6 juin 2023 l’installation d’une « barrière marine flottante » pour dissuader les migrants de franchir illégalement la frontière sud des États-Unis, un détail important a été omis : entre les bouées orange qui composent l’ouvrage se trouvent des lames de scie circulaire aiguisées, qui rendent le franchissement presque impossible sans risque de se blesser.

      Des représentants de l’association Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) se sont rendus le 8 août 2023 à Eagle Pass, au Texas, et ont partagé de nombreuses vidéos sur leur compte X (anciennement Twitter).

      Les vidéos montrent de plus près les installations et ces disques métalliques tranchants entre les #bouées_flottantes.

      La petite ville d’#Eagle_Pass est devenue l’un des points de passage les plus dangereux de la frontière américano-mexicaine, marquée à cet endroit par le fleuve Rio Grande : les noyades de migrants y sont devenues monnaie courante.

      Le CHC a déclaré que ses membres étaient venus au Texas pour « tirer la sonnette d’alarme sur ces tactiques inhumaines mises en place par le gouverneur Abbott ».

      Une vidéo de 12 secondes, partagée par l’élue à la Chambre des représentants Sylvia Garcia, a été visionnée plus de 25 millions de fois.

      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. We must stop this NOW ! pic.twitter.com/XPc4C8Tnl0
      — Rep. Sylvia Garcia (@RepSylviaGarcia) August 8, 2023

      Le 21 juillet 2023, le ministère américain de la Justice a déposé une plainte contre le gouverneur Greg Abbott au sujet de la barrière frontalière flottante. L’action en justice qualifie d’"illégale" la mise en place d’une telle barrière et vise à forcer le Texas à l’enlever pour des raisons humanitaires et environnementales.

      « Ils traitent les êtres humains comme des animaux »

      La militarisation de la frontière sud des États-Unis avec le Mexique fait partie de l’#investissement de plusieurs milliards de dollars déployé par le gouverneur du Texas Greg Abbott pour stopper « de manière proactive » les arrivées de migrants par cette zone frontalière.

      La clôture flottante n’est qu’un seul des six projets de loi crédités en tout de 5,1 milliards de dollars de dotation et qui ont été annoncés le 6 juin 2023.

      La politique migratoire stricte du Texas, qui consiste notamment à transporter des personnes par car vers les États démocrates du Nord et à autoriser la Garde nationale à procéder à des arrestations, a incité d’autres États républicains à prendre des mesures similaires pour freiner l’immigration illégale.

      Contacté à plusieurs reprises par la rédaction des Observateurs, le bureau du gouverneur Abbott ne nous a pas répondu.

      Everyone needs to see what I saw in Eagle Pass today.

      Clothing stuck on razor wire where families got trapped. Chainsaw devices in the middle of buoys. Land seized from US citizens.

      Operation Lone Star is barbaric — and @GovAbbott is making border communities collateral damage. pic.twitter.com/PzKyZGWfds
      — Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) August 8, 2023

      « Je veux que vous regardiez ici le dispositif de type tronçonneuse qu’ils ont caché au milieu de ces bouées. Et quand vous venez ici, vous pouvez voir au loin tous ces fils de fer barbelés près du fleuve », a commenté le membre du Congrès américain Joaquin Castro, qui a également participé à la visite du CHC au Texas.

      « Le gouvernement de l’État [du Texas, NDLR] et Greg Abbott traitent les êtres humains comme des animaux », a-t-il ajouté dans une vidéo publiée le 8 août 2023 sur son compte X.

      Une frontière flottante fabriquée par Cochrane Global

      Texas began installation of its marine barrier near Eagle Pass. One pro-illegal immigration activist I met taking video elsewhere was outraged, saying it’ll never work. But… if she believes that, why get so verklempt ?Just shrug, smirk and go away. But they must think it’ll work ! pic.twitter.com/4fzdHdNJw8
      — Todd Bensman (@BensmanTodd) July 11, 2023

      Dans la vidéo de 12 secondes de Sylvia Garcia, on entend une personne dire : « Quelqu’un a fait beaucoup d’efforts ridicules pour concevoir ces installations. »

      Sur les bouées, on peut lire le mot « #Cochrane ». #Cochrane_Global est une multinationale spécialisée dans les « barrières [...] de haute sécurité » destinées à l’usage de gouvernements, d’entreprises ou de particuliers.

      Sur son site web, Cochrane Global indique que « la barrière flottante brevetée est composée de plusieurs bouées interconnectées qui peuvent être étendues à n’importe quelle longueur et personnalisées en fonction de l’objectif ».

      Le 4 août 2023, un corps a été retrouvé près du mur flottant installé sur le fleuve, en face d’Eagle Pass, au Texas.

      Il n’est pas clair à ce stade si l’ajout de lames de scie circulaire aux bouées orange a été pensé et fabriqué par Cochrane Global ou s’il a été fait à la demande des autorités de l’État.

      La rédaction des Observateurs a contacté Cochrane Global pour obtenir un commentaire, sans succès. Nous publierons sa réponse dès que nous l’aurons reçue.



    • The Floating Barrier and the Border Industrial Complex

      The Texas water wall gives a glimpse into rapidly proliferating border enforcement worldwide and the significant profit to be made from it.

      When I first came across Cochrane International, the company that built the floating barrier deployed in Eagle Pass, Texas, I watched a demonstration the company gave with detached bemusement. I was at a gun range just outside San Antonio. It was 2017, three months after Donald Trump had been sworn in and the last day of that year’s Border Security Expo, the annual gathering of Department of Homeland Security’s top brass and hundreds of companies from the border industry. Among industry insiders, the optimism was high. With Trump’s wall rhetoric at a fever pitch, the money was in the bank.

      All around me, all morning, Border Patrol agents were blasting away body-shaped cutouts in a gun competition. My ears were ringing, thanks in part to the concussion grenade I had launched—under the direction of an agent, but with great ineptitude—into an empty field as part of another hands-on demonstration. The first two days of the expo had been in the much-posher San Antonio convention center, where companies displayed their sophisticated camera systems, biometrics, and drones in a large exhibition hall. But here on the gun range we seemed to be on its raw edge.

      So when a red truck with a camo-painted trailer showed up and announced its demonstration, it wasn’t too much of a surprise. The blasting bullets still echoed all around as if they would never cease. Two men jumped out of the truck wearing red shirts and khaki pants. They frantically ran around the camo trailer, like mice scurrying around a piece of cheese trying to figure out the proper angle of attack. Then the demo began. One of the men got back in the truck, and as it lurched forward, coiling razor wire began to spill out of its rear end as if it were having a bowel movement. As the truck moved forward, more and more of Cochrane’s Rapid Deployment Barrier spilled out until it extended the length of a football field or more. It was like a microwavable insta-wall, fast-food border enforcement.

      Little did I know that six years later, this same company, Cochrane, would give us the floating barrier, with its wrecking ball–sized buoys connected side by side with circular saws. The floating barrier, as the Texas Standard put it, is the “centerpiece of #Operation_Lone_Star,” Texas governor Greg Abbott’s $4.5 billion border enforcement plan. For this barrier, which has now been linked to the deaths of at least two people, the Texas Department of Public Safety awarded Cochrane an $850,000 contract.

      While the floating wall is part of Abbott’s right-wing fear-fueled border operations, it is also a product of the broader border buildup in the United States. It embodies the deterrence strategy that has driven the buildup—via exponentially increasing budgets—for three decades, through multiple federal administrations from both sides of the aisle. In this sense, Cochrane is one of hundreds upon hundreds of companies that have received contracts, and made revenue, from border enforcement. Today, the Biden administration is giving out border and immigration enforcement contracts at a clip of 27 contracts a day, a pace that will top that of all other presidents. (Before Biden, the average was 16 contracts a day.)

      And there is no sign that this will abate anytime soon. Take the ongoing Homeland Security appropriations debate for fiscal year 2024: a detail in a statement put out by House Appropriations chair Kay Granger caught my eye: $2.1 billion will be allocated for the construction of a “physical wall along the southern border.” (This is something readers should keep a keen eye on! Cochrane certainly is.) At stake is the 2024 presidential request for CBP and ICE, at $28.2 billion. While that number is much higher than any of the Trump administration’s annual border enforcement budgets, it is less than the 2023 budget of $29.8 billion, the highest ever for border and immigration enforcement.

      But the $1.6 billion difference between 2023 and 2024 might soon disappear, thanks to supplemental funding requested by the White House, funding that would include nearly $1 billion in unrestricted funds for CBP and ICE enforcement, detention, and surveillance, and more funds for “community-based residential facilities,” among other things. While these “residential facilities” might sound nice, the National Immigrant Justice Center says they will “essentially reinstate family detention.” In other words, the White House aims to build more prisons for migrants, probably also run by private companies. The prison initiative has the support of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which has indicated that it will craft a bill that ensures the supplemental funding’s enactment.

      The tributaries of money into the broader border industrial complex are many, and all indications are that Operation Lone Star, which is drawing money from all kinds of different departments in the Texas state government, will continue as long as Abbott remains at the helm. Moreover, the Department of Homeland Security supplies local and state governments with border enforcement funding via a program called Operation Stonegarden. Under this program, Texas received $39 million in 2022, the equivalent of 47 floating barriers. Or more ambitiously the potential $2.1 billion mentioned above by Granger would amount to 2,470 of Cochrane’s water walls.

      As Cochrane project manager #Loren_Flossman testified (the Department of Justice is suing the state of Texas for building the floating barrier), the water barrier was first contracted by CBP in 2020 but shut down when Biden took office. At the time, the new president said that the administration would not build any more wall (although it has and is). Flossman would know, because he himself came to Cochrane after 17 years working in acquisitions at CBP, as he stated in his testimony. There is a trend in which CBP high brass cruise through the proverbial public-private revolving door, and Flossman is the newest well-connected former government employee peddling barriers across the globe in a world where there is a “rapid proliferation of border walls,” and there exists a border security market projected to nearly double in a decade.

      Cochrane has certainly jumped into this with full force. Besides the floating barrier, its products include an invisible wall known as ClearVu, the “finest fence you’ve never seen.” The same brochure shows this “invisible” wall around a Porsche dealership, an American Airlines building, and the Egyptian pyramids, and it says that the company’s walls can be found “across six continents” and “100 countries.” And that’s not all; such walls can be enhanced with accessories like the Cochrane Smart Coil, Electric Smart Coil, and Spike Toppings. The Smart Coil’s description reads like a menu at a fine-dining restaurant: composed of “a 730mm high Ripper Blade smart Concertina Coil, produced from the finest galvanized steel available on the market.” The “smart” part is that it will provide an “intrusion alert,” and the electric part means a potentially deadly electric current of 7,000 volts. From this menu, CBP has one contract with Cochrane from 2020 for “coil units,” but the contract doesn’t specify if it is “smart,” “electric,” or both.

      When I first saw Cochrane back in 2017 among the ear-ringing gunfire on the last day of the Border Security Expo, I had a feeling I might see them again. No matter how ludicrous the rapid barrier deployment camo truck seemed to me then, there was, indeed, plenty of money to be made.