A new article from the San Antonio Express News contains disturbing allegations about actions undertaken amid the infamous attempts by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, to essentially further lock down the southern border. Those moves have included the placement of razor wire into the Rio Grande River, which has both directly and indirectly created serious and potentially life-threatening dangers for migrants trying to access the asylum system in the U.S., which is legally protected.
“Officers working for Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security initiative have been ordered to push small children and nursing babies back into the Rio Grande,” the Express News began, citing an internal email to a superior from an officer with the Texas Department of Public Safety. The incident to which the journalist referred in the opening sentence involved a large group of migrants near the river, where troopers on the scene declined to carry out the reported directive from higher up to physically force those present into the water. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the federal border agency, and other agents evidently from the Texas state department provided medical assistance to the gathered migrants after the first group left.
Yet, there was another incident in which physically forcing a vulnerable migrant back into the water reportedly did happen rather than the agents taking a different path. “A four-year-old girl passed out from heat exhaustion after she tried to go through [the razor wire] and was pushed back by Texas National Guard soldiers,” the Express News summarizes of the allegations from the Texas state trooper behind the inciting email. The girl eventually received medical treatment. The timeline of events established in the Express News appears to indicate she passed out after the soldiers pushed the child back into the water.
In other situations, individuals have been wounded by the razor wire or even become stuck in the river barriers. “This is absolutely monstrous, inhumane policy,” Joaquin Castro, a Democratic Congressman in Texas, tweeted in reply to this new report. In response to scrutiny, spokesperson Travis Considine with the Texas state Department of Public Safety essentially cast the agency as proactively seeking better ways to address migrants’ safety.