Texas Department of Public Safety Office of Inspector General investigators are looking into allegations of “inhumane” border security policies made by a DPS trooper deployed to the border region. A DPS trooper alleged he was ordered to “push people (migrants) back into the water to go to Mexico.” He also expressed concern over an order to “not give people water.”
On Monday, the Houston Chronicle reported from a leaked email originally sent from a Texas trooper assigned to the Eagle Pass area under Operation Lone Star to his superiors. In the email, the trooper made multiple allegations as to what he said “stepped over a line into [inhumane].” The trooper cited several anecdotal incidents that led to his conclusion of inhumane policies.
Texas DPS spokesman Travis Considine told Breitbart Texas on Tuesday that the Office of Inspector General is investigating the allegations made by the trooper. The trooper is reportedly not the target of the investigation. Rather, investigators are attempting to learn if orders contrary to Texas border security policy may have been issued in the field.
Multiple DPS officials told Breitbart there is no policy that directs troopers to physically push migrants “back into the water” as alleged by the trooper. They also denied there is a policy prohibiting providing water to migrants who may be in distress from heat-related injuries or illness.
“No troopers are told to push migrants into the water,” DPS Lieutenant Chris Olivarez told Breitbart. Rather, he explained, the policy is to deter migrants from crossing the border and to redirect them back to Mexico to safely enter the U.S. at a CBP port of entry.
As @TxDPS Troopers attempt to stop migrants from placing themselves in harm’s way by deciding to cross the Rio Grande, the fact is, our Troopers perform more rescues because they are the ones on the front lines rescuing migrants from both dangerous conditions & criminal… https://t.co/H5VHQy6vIh pic.twitter.com/7qAbAgBNT6
— Chris Olivarez (@LtChrisOlivarez) July 18, 2023
Breitbart Texas learned that an OIG investigator was in Eagle Pass on Tuesday to interview people about the allegations made in the trooper’s email.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office released a statement from Texas Border Czar Mike Banks, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Texas Military Department which states:
No orders or directions have been given under Operation Lone Star that would compromise the lives of those attempting to cross the border illegally. The Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Military Department continue taking steps to monitor migrants in distress, provide appropriate medical attention when needed, and encourage them to use one of the 29 international bridges along the Texas-Mexico Border where they can safely and legally cross. With migrants from over 150 countries encouraged by open border policies to risk their lives and make this dangerous trek to enter our country illegally, Texas is deploying every tool and strategy to deter and repel illegal crossings between ports of entry. The absence of these tools and strategies—including concertina wire that snags clothing—encourages migrants to make potentially life-threatening and illegal crossings. Through Operation Lone Star, Texas continues stepping up to respond to the unprecedented humanitarian crisis at our southern border.
“It is Texas troopers and National Guard soldiers who are risking their lives to rescue migrants who place themselves in life-threatening circumstances,” a Texas DPS official told Breitbart. “We are the ones who are pulling people from the river and are saving lives.”
Texas DPS officials provided Breitbart the email thread in which the trooper made his allegations. In the leaked email, the trooper expressed his belief in the mission of Operation Lone Star. He then added:
I believe we a have stepped over a line into the in humane. We need to operate it correctly in the eyes of God. We need to recognize that these are people who are made in the image of God and need to be treated as such.
In the email thread that made its way up the chain of command to DPS Director, Colonel Steve McCraw responded, saying:
The priority of life requires that we rescue migrants from harm and we will continue to do so. In fact, Texas Troopers and Texas National Guard Soldiers have saved the lives of numerous migrants at the risk of their own safety, and one soldier died during a water rescue attempt. The high increases in temperature that we are now experiencing can also be a threat to life, particularly so for migrants abandoned by smugglers in desolate areas or locked into semi-trailers. Regional Directors Victor Escalon and Joe Sanchez are mindful of these threats and have taken steps to remind DPS and other agency personnel conducting “hold the line” operations to look closely for migrants in distress and take the appropriate when detected. Ideally, we will be able to prevent migrants from risking their lives by denying them access between the Ports of Entry and encourage them to use one of the 29 Texas international bridges where they can safely cross.
Breitbart Texas reviewed an Excel spreadsheet report compiled by Texas DPS emergency medical crews providing initial care to migrants in distress. The report covers the week of June 25 through July 1 — the same period covered by the complaints made by the DPS trooper in the leaked email.
That report shows 38 incidents where migrants required medical attention or another form of emergency response. Most of the medical complaints involved weakness and did not require transportation to a medical facility. All but three cases not involving deceased migrants were classified as “non-emergent. The report details migrants who drowned while crossing the Rio Grande.
DPS officials say the goal of Operation Lone Star in this area is to convey to migrants on the Mexican side of the border the dangers associated with crossing the Rio Grande and to encourage them to make their way to a CBP port of entry.
In another email thread provided to Breitbart, DPS Southeast Regional Director Victor Escalon told his team:
As we continue to deter and enforce State law, we need to continue messaging to the migrants via personnel verbal commands, LRADS, and signage, about the dangers of crossing the Rio Grande into the United States. We also need to remind migrants to turn themselves into the ports of entry on the Mexican side.
As we enforce State law, we may need to open the wire to aid individuals in medical distress, maintain the peace, and/or to make an arrest for criminal trespass, criminal mischief, acts of violence, or other State crimes.
Our DPS medical unit is assigned to this operation to address medical concerns for everyone involved. As we enforce State law, we may need to aid those in medical distress and provide water as necessary.
We are also in close communication with Mexican Federal Immigration, state police, media, and NGOs across the river in Mexico to help with messaging to stop and stem the flow of migrants. Again, thank you for what you do to make this operation successful.
NGO charities operating in Mexico near this region informed DPS they have plenty of shelters for migrants to use while waiting for an appointment to safely and legally cross the border at a port of entry.
“They refuse to wait,” Lt. Olivarez told Breitbart Texas on Tuesday. “Human smugglers or other migrants tell them if they make their way across the river, Border Patrol agents will let them through the fences and wires and release them into the United States.”
Olivarez added that the NGOs offer the migrants water and supplies to take with them and the migrants refuse to take them. Instead, he said, they are told by smugglers they will be provided everything they need on the other side of the river.
Deaths and injuries to migrants did not start when Operation Lone Star began in March 2021. Breitbart Texas has reported extensively for years on the cruel and inhumane treatment of migrants at the hands of Mexican cartel-connected human smugglers.
In April 2019, Breitbart Texas reported that Border Patrol agents in Eagle Pass recovered the body of a drowned migrant. The death was the fourth-such drowning in the Del Rio Sector by that point in the year. The drowning occurred in almost the same location where a migrant woman, her young child, and two other migrants drowned during a four-day period earlier this month.
Despite the warnings from officials and the massive heat wave encompassing the Texas border region migrants continue to put their lives at risk instead of waiting to cross through ports of entry.
“While we are attempting to stop migrants placing themselves in harm’s way by deciding to cross the Rio Grande, the fact is, more migrants are rescued because more people are present to quickly respond to these incidents,” Lt. Olivarez concluded.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.
Editor’s Note: This article originally attributed a written statement to Governor Greg Abbott. The attribution has been corrected to reflect the proper source.
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