When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas announced a multibillion-dollar initiative two years ago to deter migrants crossing from Mexico, the border city of Eagle Pass was seeing 1,200 people coming into town daily, and many residents welcomed the extra aid. Over time, as Abbott has tested the legal limits of state action on immigration — sending the National Guard and scores of state troopers to the border, and installing razor wire and floating barriers along the river — some of that popular support appears to be waning, the New York Times reports. The recent reports of injuries and at least two deaths near the 1,000-foot string of river buoys has raised the level of concern. The escalated tactics under what the state has called a “hold the line” operation has even drawn criticism from within the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Border Patrol.
In interviews, some Eagle Pass residents said it feels as if their own town is under siege, with state troopers stationed along riverbanks warning those trying to cross to turn back. A hearing is set for Tuesday in federal court in Austin on a challenge to the river barrier from the Justice Department, which contends that it violates federal law. The department argued that a significant portion of the buoy barrier was located in Mexican territory. A survey by the International Boundary and Water Commission found that about 787 out of the 1,000 feet rested on the Mexican side, and the Mexican government objected to the barrier.