After the Title 42 asylum restrictions expire, migrants may find it more dangerous to cross the southern border of the United States due to the expected torrential rain in South Texas.
The weather comes right after the limits imposed during the epidemic, which might put lives in danger as the number of individuals crossing the border increases. The weather is predicted to cause the Rio Grande River to swell along the border.
“The last time they saw rivers run this high in the area would be 2017 or 2018,” said Gregory Waller, a service coordination hydrologist with the National Weather Service West Gulf River Forecast Center, of river levels. “These flows are not common.”
It started raining on Friday and was expected to continue through the weekend. The Rio Grande, which flows 1,900 miles from Colorado through New Mexico, Texas, and northern Mexico, is the fifth-longest river in the United States. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, it provides water for 2 million acres of land and about 6 million people use it for irrigation and drinking.
The section of the river that winds more than 150 miles between the Texas border towns of Del Rio and Laredo is of particular concern, according to Waller. This is so that floods along the Rio Grande can be controlled by dams and reservoirs.
According to the Texas Water Development Board, the Amistad Reservoir in Del Rio is at 35% full and the Falcon Reservoir near Laredo is at 21% capacity, meaning both should be able to efficiently catch and control floodwaters. Waller warned of the possibility of isolated floods and heavy rain along the river’s length between those two towns.
“This can be interpreted as a possible worst case scenario forecast,” a message posted to the agency’s Twitter page said. “We are seeing a 60%-70% probability of at least 4 inches of rainfall.”
Along this section of water, drowning de@ths have been documented in the past. Nine migrants perished in Eagle Pass last year after the area saw significant rainfall, and a member of the Texas National Guard perished while trying to save two migrants from being carried away by the current.
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To discourage individuals from attempting to swim over the river, Texas Public Safety law enforcement personnel set up barbed wire alongside it on Thursday. The city of Eagle Pass informed locals that up to 10 inches of rain was possible in certain spots.
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Heavy weekend rains in South Texas could endanger migrants crossing to U.S. following Title 42 lift
The weather conditions could
— Md Rimon Mia (@HossainRimon7) May 14, 2023
The Texas Division of Emergency Management has been instructed by Governor Greg Abbott to get ready for heavy storms and flash floods. In southeast Texas, the governor instructed numerous swift-water boat teams to get ready to respond and conduct rescues.
According to El Paso Water, the local water utility, dam operators were discharging water for irrigation along the Rio Grande near El Paso. This could make it more difficult to cross the river in that location.
“After minimal flows for many months, the increase of flows could pose a risk for anyone who might be crossing,” El Paso Water said in a statement. “We want our community and migrants to be aware they may find themselves in danger while trying to cross the river or canals.”
The utility announced that it was distributing fliers warning of the danger to migrant shelters across the border in Juarez in collaboration with the nonprofit organization Hope Border Institute.
The amount of water being released from the Elephant Butte reservoir was unclear, and a call to a representative of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the dam, went unanswered.
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