Increased risks for migrants at the Mexico border due to the water that the U.S. releases into the Rio Grande


Ciudad Juárez (Mexico) (EFE) – Migrants crossing the border face new risks because the United States has begun to release into the Rio Grande the water that belongs to Mexico by treaty, leaving them trapped between the current and the razor wire fence that the Texas Government refuses to remove.

The United States started this week with the delivery of millions of cubic meters to the border tributary, as established by the bilateral International Water Distribution Treaty, but the rise in water level increases the risks for migrants, as documented by EFE in Ciudad Juárez, bordering El Paso, Texas.

Migrants use empty jugs as floaters in the river, while others carry their children on their shoulders with a rope made of rags as the only safety measure.

Rafael Cortés, a migrant from El Salvador, stopped at the edge in Mexico while hesitating to cross, as the current looks slow, but local authorities have warned of its danger.

‘It is indeed dangerous to cross just like that. One runs the risk of deportation and all that,’ commented the Central American to EFE.

The Texas fence exacerbates the danger

The danger is exacerbated by the fence with barbed wire and razors now 3 meters high that the governor of Texas, the Republican Greg Abbott, refuses to remove despite an order from the Supreme Court of the United States in January.

The Government of Mexico has denounced that this increases the risk of migrants getting injured or dying when crossing, as happened on January 14 with a Mexican woman and her two children who drowned in Piedras Negras.

Now, with the rise of the Bravo, the land space between the river and the razor wire fence has been reduced to less than a meter.

Once they cross the tributary, migrants are trapped between the current and the razors, waiting to pass the fence and dodge the Texas National Guard.

Migrants crossing the border face risks because the U.S. began to release into the Rio Grande the water that belongs to Mexico.

But Salvadoran Cortés said there is no option because they have ‘been waiting for the CPB One appointment (an application to request an appointment with U.S. authorities) for four months and nothing comes out.’

‘So, we take this alternative to want to cross like this with my nephew and let God’s will be done,’ he said. ‘We have to see how we get through because it is a bit deep, so let’s see what can be done,’ he added.

Wendy, a Venezuelan migrant who had already decided to cross despite the danger, indicated through tears that her greatest fear does not come from that last barrier.

‘I am afraid that, one risks going through all this and that they do not accept you and that they return you,’ she expressed. ‘With so many things that we have gone through in Venezuela, we went through the Darién jungle, the path is more dangerous,’ she added.

The binational water agreement between the U.S. and Mexico

The bilateral water treaty, signed in 1944, establishes that the United States will deliver to Mexico through the Rio Grande water from the U.S. dams of El Caballo and El Elefante, in southern New Mexico.

With the start of the delivery, the depth of the river in front of point 36 of the border between Juárez and El Paso increased from less than a meter to almost two meters deep, so migrants have to swim.

The events occur amid the unprecedented migratory flow of recent years in the region, where Mexico reported an increase of about 77% in irregular migration in 2023, with more than 782,000 undocumented foreigners detected.

In addition, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) declared last September the border between Mexico and the United States as ‘the most dangerous land migration route in the world,’ with more than 686 migrants dead or missing in 2022.

Source: EFE