Buoy installation at border prompts Eagle Pass business owner to file lawsuit against Texas

Jessie Fuentes is expected to be in Austin early next week to continue to advocate for his community and the Rio Grande

EAGLE PASS, Texas – The state’s latest effort to secure the border by placing a buoy barrier in the Rio Grande has gained a lot of backlash from migrant advocacy and environmentalists.

A small business owner said the continued layers of defense are impacting his business and taking a toll on the community.

Jessie Fuentes was born and raised in Eagle Pass. He said the Rio Grande was essentially his backyard.

The river served as a recreational hot spot for people on both sides of the water.

Fuentes, the owner of a canoe and kayaking company in Eagle Pass, said it’s time to act and reclaim their community that has been turned into a war zone.

On July 7th, Fuentes filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas. It’s a story like that of David and Goliath. At least, that’s how Fuentes puts it.

I’ve been getting a lot of calls from all over the United States, and they’ve called me a bunch of things, but I tell you what, when it comes to our community, when it comes to our rivers, and it comes to my passion in life of being on the river, I’m here to defend it,” said Fuentes.

Fuentes said initially, the community’s intention was to prevent the buoys from being installed.

Now, he is hoping for a permanent injunction to get them removed.

He said the state’s latest effort in securing the border is doing more harm than good.

Fuentes said studies performed by a local fluvial geomorphologist — a person who studies how rivers flow and move over time — said the buoys could have a catastrophic impact.

“If you put anything in the water, it’s going to alter the flow and eventually it’s going to affect something and, you know, sometimes flash floods come without notice and that’s what scares me is that people come into your backyard, and they build all this stuff with no scientific evidence that it’s going to work or not,” said Fuentes.

For many, the border is political. For Fuentes, it’s personal.

“I, for one, am just offended by what’s going on and the way our communities are made to look like we’re a third-world country. We’re still America, you know, we’re still Texas. I was born here. I’m an American citizen,” said Fuentes.

According to DPS officials, the installment of the marine barrier will play a crucial role in securing the border and they hope it serves to deter migrants from crossing into the U.S.

Fuentes said the only public access boat ramp at Shelby Park has now been taken over by DPS, Border Patrol and the military.

To have the state come in and try to overtake what is a federal responsibility has really put a burden on my own small business, on the river, on our community and the beauty of our only, only accessible public boat ramp,” said Fuentes.

Fuentes said he is expected to be in Austin early next week to continue to advocate for his community and the Rio Grande.

As a person of Mexican American descendants, it hurts me, me duele, it’s my people, it’s my gente and mira. I’m determined to see it all the way through and there’s no man that should have that kind of power. As far as stepping out of state jurisdiction into a federal, federally protected river and what he’s doing is shameless,” said Fuentes.

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About the Authors:

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.