Texas Investigating Claims Troopers told to Push Migrants Back into Rio Grande

July 19, 2023

The Texas Office of the Inspector General is investigating claims that state troopers were ordered to push migrants—including women and children—back into the Rio Grande River and to deny them water.

The claims arose from an email shared with the media on Monday by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), in which a state trooper said that medics “were given orders to push the people back into the water to go to Mexico” and not give them drinking water.

DPS spokesperson Travis Considine said in a follow-up email that while there is “not a directive or policy that instructs Troopers to withhold water from migrants or push them back into the river” but that the Office of the Inspector General was “investigating the allegations made in the email in question.”

The DPS email, first revealed by the Houston Chronicle, notes that within one seven-hour period in late June, two DPS medics said they had treated a 4-year-old girl who passed out in 100-degree heat after  Texas National Guard pushed her group back toward Mexico, a 15-year-old boy with a broken leg who’d tried to avoid buoys in the river, a man with a significant laceration on his leg who’d tried to rescue his child from razor wire in the river, and a 19-year-old woman who suffered a miscarriage while trapped in the wire. 

According to the email, the trooper who wrote it told a sergeant that the razor wire is an “inhumane trap” that should be removed because it “forces people to cross in other areas that are deeper and not as safe for people carrying kids and bags.”

On the federal level, the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department are in ongoing talks about taking potential action against Texas amid concerns over months-long policies by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on the border, sources told CNN.

Abbott ordered concertina wire to be placed in the riverbank as part of his Operation Lone Star, a series of border security measures announced in 2021 that included sending state troopers and National Guard members to the Texas-Mexico border to deter or arrest migrants attempting to cross the Rio Grande.

Abbott’s office signed on to a joint statement Tuesday, along with DPS chief Steve McCraw, insisting there have been no orders or directions given under Operation Lone Star that “would compromise the lives of those attempting to cross the border illegally.”

The statement adds that Texas encourages migrants to “use one of the 29 international bridges along the Texas-Mexico Border where they can safely and legally cross.”

PHOTO: The Rio Grande in Mexico

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