Texas trooper alleges ‘inhumane’ practices against migrants at the border

A helicopter flies over a river running through a wooded landscape
A Border Patrol helicopter flies low over the Rio Grande on a daily run in support of agents pursuing immigrants and smugglers on the ground in December 2018.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Troopers at the Texas border were ordered to push children back into the Rio Grande and failed to provide water to asylum seekers in extreme heat conditions, according to an email sent by a Department of Public Safety trooper, and first reported by the Houston Chronicle.

The incidents have coincided with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s push for intense border security efforts through his Operation Lone Star initiative.

The email, which was sent to a superior and shared by a confidential source, documented several situations the trooper had witnessed in Eagle Pass, Texas, where some of Abbott’s most aggressive efforts are being implemented.

In response to the email, Abbott’s office released a joint statement with other Texas officials, saying that no orders or directions were given to troopers that would compromise the lives of migrants. “Texas is deploying every tool and strategy to deter and repel illegal crossings between ports of entry,” the statement said.


Abbott has accused federal officials of refusing to protect the border.

At the height of the pandemic, most businesses were forced to alter operations, but for street vendors, who are subjected to zoning permits and rising food costs, things became even more unstable.

July 11, 2023

Texas state officials have also used miles of razor wire to prevent migrants from entering the country, which has resulted in multiple deaths and injuries. The trooper’s email detailed an incident that reportedly took place last month, where a 19-year-old pregnant woman had to be cut free from the wire. Troopers later determined the woman was having a miscarriage.

Another account described how a 4-year-old girl passed out after experiencing heat exhaustion in temperatures that were “well over 100 degrees.” After trying to pass through the wire, the girl was pushed back by Texas National Guard soldiers “due to the orders given to them,” the email said.

A spokesperson for the Texas National Guard was contacted but did not respond to a request for comment.

The trooper also claimed to have treated a 15-year-old teenager who suffered a broken leg after trying to navigate part of the water around the wire. The trooper said the wire was “laid out in a manner that it forced him into the river where it is unsafe to travel.”

The federal Border Patrol has issued internal warnings that the razor wire is preventing agents from reaching at-risk migrants and has increased the risk of drownings in the Rio Grande, Hearst Newspapers have reported.

‘Language isn’t the only thing that defines who we are and our relationship to our Mexican heritage.’

July 18, 2023

Department of Public Safety spokesman Travis Considine did not directly comment on the information included in the trooper’s email but did add that there is no policy that would bar officials from providing water to migrants at the border.


DPS Director Steven McCraw said that state troopers should warn migrants not to attempt to cross the razor wire and migrants should be directed to other ports of entry.

On June 25, the trooper wrote that officials encountered a group of 120 people including babies and small children who were camped out along a fence by the river. The email said the shift officer in command ordered the troopers to “push the people back into the water to go to Mexico.”

When the troopers disagreed with the orders, they were given another order to instruct the migrants to go to Mexico and for them to get into their vehicles and leave the area, the email said.

Texas Democratic lawmakers were quick to condemn the actions reported by the Houston Chronicle.

“Greg Abbott’s actions on the border are inhumane, villainous, and out of step with Texas values — and they’re all about politics,” tweeted Rep. Greg Casar on Tuesday. “Abbott wants his name in the headlines — even if it means a child’s name gets put in the obituaries.”