NNIRR Joint Statement with Human Rights Organizations

For immediate release: September 09, 2023

Human Rights Organizations Condemn the 5th Circuit Court’s Decision to Allow Buoys to Remain in the Rio Grande River 

Organizations will be hosting a press conference today, September 9th at 3:00 pm cst at the Casa de la Cultura in Del Rio, Texas.

Del Rio, TX – On Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals issued an order that allows a barrier of buoys placed in the Rio Grande river to remain despite the indiscriminate harm it has caused for people in migration and those seeking protection.

This violent response to migration is part of the troubling pattern of human rights violations committed under Governor Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star (OLS). This operation is creating a hostile and racially discriminatory environment for migrants and border communities –specifically communities of color living in the Texas borderlands. The buoys and heightened levels of military personnel from states such as Florida and Oklahoma tragically reveal the ongoing racial discrimination experienced by border communities and the willingness to sacrifice lives as tolerable features of border security.

Immigrants, border communities, and people of color have suffered from state-sanctioned violence and racism on the borderlands for decades, and have continued to suffer under Operation Lone Star and other deterrence measures. The border should not be a region of violence, racism where people in migration perish or go missing.

Executive Director with the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights,  Alma Maquitico has stated the following: “We condemn the continued lack of accountability for human rights violations committed by the State of Texas. It is alarming that despite numerous reports from journalists and human rights organizations about discriminatory and deadly impacts of these operations, we are still witnessing these violent pushbacks at the border, the denial of access to asylum procedures, and unlawful detentions of migrants and asylum-seekers. These restrictive policies are not only gradually dismantling international protection mechanisms, but gradually dismantling constitutional protections for all residents of the borderlands.”

Karen Gonzalez of the Border Organization said “I love Texas and I am proud to have been born here. I agree there needs to be border security, but I want to emphasize we want security without cruelty. I am certain that with the 9 billion dollars being spent on Operation Lonestar, we can come up with better solutions and invest that money into our communities. This is not a political issue and being so opposed to another side that extreme measures are taken is just history repeating itself. Haven’t we learned from our past?”

Border Vigil Organizer Amerika Garcia-Grewal of Eagle Pass said “I’m very disappointed in the appeals court ruling. It is not in the interest of public safety or the environment, and jeopardizes diplomatic relations between the United States and Mexico. Last year was a record-breaking year for deaths on our border and this appeal court decision and the continued actions of the State of Texas will lead to even more needless deaths along our border. Enough already! No mas muertes.”

Esperanza Peace and Justice Center organizer Luissana Santibañez traveled from San Antonio to bear witness to the blatant disregard for human life on the border and to ally with frontline communities in demanding a respect for human rights by government authorities. She exclaims, “When our government fails to protect the rights of children, the rights of families, and the rights of migrants to seek asylum, refuge, safe and legal channels of migration, including life-saving operation and rescue, then we have a government that operates under a law of impunity. It doesn’t have to be this way, we can find more humanitarian solutions.”

Dahene Gustave, Humanitarian Director for the Haitian Bridge Alliance, said, “Through our work in defending, protecting and serving individuals and families seeking asylum,  we understand the importance of creating safe and legal pathways for migration as we continue to welcome people with compassion, love and dignity.  We urge the State of Texas to recognize that migrants are human beings many of whom fleeing torture, persecution, political unrest, and/or human rights violations in their home countries.  The false narrative of migrants invading the U.S. is not only problematic but extremely dangerous. We implore the people of Texas to join force against such cruel treatments and demand that Governor Abbot immediately cease the use of buoys and other barbaric tactics that are literally killing people in their name”


Amerika Garcia-Grewal, Border Vigil Eagle Pass | BorderVigil@gmail.com, (830) 294-8380; Alma Maquitico, NNIRR | amaquitico@nnirr.org, (915) 209-1788; Luissana Santibanez, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center | Luissana.santibanez@gmail.com; Karen Gonzalez, The Border Organization | karen10493@hotmail.com; Dahene Gustave, Haitian Bridge Alliance | dgustave@haitianbridge.org


NNIRR, The Border Organization, the Border Vigil Eagle Pass, Haitian Bridge Alliance, and the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center