Mexico City, Aug 4 (EFE).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday escalated his war of words with Republican officials in Texas over their deployment of buoys and barbed wire along a stretch of the Rio Grande, which forms the border between the United States and Mexico.
“In their churches they are going to be questioned by their evangelical pastors, the Catholic priests, their co-religionists, because besides acting as bad leaders and bad citizens, they are acting as bad Christians,” he told reporters at his daily morning news conference.
The president, known as AMLO, was reacting to statements from a spokesman for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott dismissing Mexico’s contention that the buoys played a role in the recent deaths of two migrants in the river.
“The Mexican government is flat-out wrong,” Andrew Mahaleris said in a statement. “To be clear, preliminary information points to the drowning occurring before the body was even near the barriers.”
He went on to attack Lopez Obrador and US Democratic President Joe Biden for what he erroneously called their “reckless open border policies.”
During the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, 2022, US authorities detained more than 2.76 million undocumented migrants on the southern border, while AMLO has been criticized by human rights groups for being too willing to accommodate Washington’s demands to slow the northbound flow of third-country nationals.
“If President Biden and President Lopez Obrador truly cared about human life, they would do their jobs and secure the border,” Mahaleris said on behalf of Abbott, who has sent busloads of migrants to Washington, New York, and other cities to dramatize his criticism of federal immigration policy.
“All of this that’s happening is very inhumane,” the Mexican president said Friday. “One can’t talk to those who have no knowledge of the human condition, don’t know the reasons for migration or if they know, they don’t care.”
The buoys extend for roughly 300 m (1,000 ft) in the middle of the river between Eagle Pass, Texas, and the Mexican town of Piedras Negras.
One of the migrants found dead in the river this week was a young man from Honduras, while authorities are still working to identify the second person.
“Yes, it’s very sad because a mother recognized her son and he’s a youth who has been identified as being from Honduras,” AMLO said.
Mexico has formally complained to the US that the placement of the buoys violates bilateral agreements and the Biden administration is suing Texas in federal court.
Last month, the Houston Chronicle published an email in which a Texas state trooper serving on the border at Eagle Pass as a medic raised concerns with his superiors about the treatment of migrants.
Recounting events during the week of June 24-July 1, the trooper wrote that medics “were given orders to push the people back into the water to go to Mexico” and were likewise told not to give water to the migrants.
The installation of the buoys is part of Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, a draconian anti-immigration program that has cost Texas at least $4.4 billion, according to the San Antonio Current.