Texas officials block US border agents from helping three drowning migrants

Texas officials block US border agents from helping three drowning migrants

A Texas congressman said Saturday that three people, including two children, who were seeking asylum in the US drowned while trying to reach the US near the border city of Eagle Pass, where the Biden administration says Texas has begun denying access to border patrol agents.

Congressman Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat, accused the state of failing to act amid escalating tensions between Texas and the US government over immigration enforcement.

Cuellar said the people who drowned were a mother and her two children, an eight-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy.

“This is a tragedy, and the state bears responsibility,” Cuellar, who is the top Democrat on the House appropriations committee’s subcommittee on homeland security, said in a statement.

On Friday, the Justice Department told the US supreme court that Texas had taken control of an area known as Shelby park and were not letting border patrol agents enter.

The park is in Eagle Pass, which is a major crossing point for migrants entering from Mexico and is the center of Republican governor Greg Abbott’s aggressive attempts to stop illegal crossings, known as Operation Lone Star. People crossing the river in that area have been killed when swept away by currents of the Rio Grande.

Cuellar, whose district includes the Texas border, said Mexican authorities alerted border patrol of three people in distress struggling in the river late Friday.

He said federal agents attempted to call and relay the information to Texas national guard members at Shelby park with no success.

Border patrol agents then visited the entrance park, but were “physically barred by Texas officials from entering the area”, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement provided to CNN.

“The Texas governor’s policies are cruel, dangerous, and inhumane, and Texas’s blatant disregard for federal authority over immigration poses grave risks,” DHS said.

The 50-acre park is owned by the city, but it is used by the state department of public safety and the Texas military department to patrol border crossings. Although daily crossings diminished from the thousands to about 500, state authorities put up fences and stationed military vehicles by the entry to deny access to the public and border patrol agents this week, according to a court filing this week.

On Saturday, Texas disputed claims that border patrol agents were denied access to the park. In a response to the court they argued border patrol had scaled down its presence since the summer, when the state moved their resources and manpower to the park.

skip past newsletter promotion

The Texas military department (TMD) said it had searched the river after being contacted by border patrol agents, but had not seen anyone in distress.

TMD said officials saw Mexican authorities responding to an incident on the Mexican side of the river about 45 minutes later. At that point TMD ceased search operations after reporting their observations to the border patrol, it said. Border patrol then confirmed that the Mexican authorities did not require additional assistance, TMD said.

“At no time did TMD security personnel along the river observe any distressed migrants, nor did TMD turn back any illegal immigrants from the US during this period,” TMD said in a statement.

“Also, at no point was TMD made aware of any bodies in the area of Shelby Park, nor was TMD made aware of any bodies being discovered on the US side of the border regarding this situation.”

On Saturday, members of the public held a ceremony at the park to mark the deaths of migrants in their region. Julio Vasquez, a pastor in attendance, said access was granted after making extended requests with the city and sharing pictures showing the entry still fenced up and guarded by members of the national guard and military vehicles.

  • Associated Press contributed to this report

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.