Vanessa Cárdenas Reacts to Deaths in Rio Grande Near Gov. Greg Abbott’s Deployed Buoys
Washington, DC – The ongoing anti-immigrant focus of Texas Governor Greg Abbott and his Operation Lone Star have been recently condemned for reinstituting family separations, one of the darkest chapters in recent American history; for having spent $4.5 billion on Operation Lone Star with “little effect on migration” while facilitating “civil-rights abuses”; for his continued use of dangerous white nationalist conspiracy rhetoric about “invasion,” despite the El Paso shooting and this week’s anniversary reminding us the dangers of amplifying those lies; and for his larger relentless and political focus on “dehumanizing cruelty” toward migrants.
The last point has been driven home in recent weeks by the revelations that Texas troopers were denying water to pregnant mothers and pushing children back into the Rio Grande, where they faced buoys and razor wire. Now, we have fresh reminders about the real lives and real devastation that occurs as a result. The Dallas Morning News reports:
“A child from Honduras was one of two people found dead on or near the buoy barrier Texas installed in the Rio Grande to deter migrants, Mexican officials said Thursday, a growing toll that critics blamed on Gov. Greg Abbott’s ‘barbaric’ border security tactics. ‘No good person would do this,’ Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said at his daily news conference. ‘This is inhumane, and no person should be treated like this.’
…In Washington, the Department of Homeland Security called the deaths “heartbreaking” and called for an investigation. Mexico’s foreign ministry announced the deaths near Eagle Pass — the first linked to the new 1,000-foot barriers — on Wednesday and confirmed Thursday that one of the bodies was that of a boy from Honduras. The boy’s mother, sobbing on local TV that night, said she recognized her son from his T-shirt and shoes.
‘The governor has the blood of a child and others on his hands,’ asserted U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso. Calling the barriers ‘barbaric,’ U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said that Abbott’s ‘barrel traps have caused an asylum seeker to drown. The Texas Governor is knowingly trying to injure, maim and kill migrants seeking asylum in the United States with razor wire and drowning devices.’”
The cruelty and death associated with Governor Abbott’s policies was a top story across Spanish language media in the United States as well, including a Telemundo interview with the mother who had had to identify her son’s body.
The following is a statement from America’s Voice Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas:
“We cannot accept the notion that the only way to manage migration is through dehumanizing cruelty. It can be easy to succumb to outrage fatigue or feel powerless against the dangerous policies on display in Texas and elsewhere. But re-read the reported description of how the mother identified her child’s body in the Rio Grande. Try and place yourselves in her shoes.
If you’re crossing Mexico to come to the U.S. border, you’re likely fleeing instability and violence or seeking a better life for your children after a harrowing journey. Maybe you’re trying to reunite with family, who have forged a better life in a land of promise and opportunity. No matter whether you’re an asylum seeker or an economic migrant, you don’t deserve to be scapegoated and dehumanized, to face razor wires and buoy lines intentionally designed to hurt or kill you, to have your family separated and your intentions castigated as harmful. You’re not an ‘invader,’ you’re a mother and a human being. And you don’t deserve to watch your child die in your pursuit of safety and a better life.
‘Barbaric’ is the right word to describe the continued efforts of Greg Abbott. None of this is about actual solutions to our immigration system or creating order along the border. What point is there other than to inflict cruelty and to harm the very people you have scapegoated and dehumanized in order to score political points with voters who already support you?
We have to keep speaking out, speaking up and speaking against these dangerous efforts to inflict harm and to dehumanize immigrants. As a nation, we’re better than this.”