HOUSTON – Harris County Democrats are calling for prosecution if allegations made against the Texas Department of Public Safety bear true.
“There needs to be a message sent that this type of action. This type of inhumanity, these types of monstrous acts will not be tolerated,” said State Representative Gene Wu.
Rosario, a migrant who has been in Texas for three months, said she experienced the bad treatment herself. She fled her country to find protection for her family in the United States. She was captured and detained by Border Patrol who she said separated her from her seven and 15-year-old children.
“I saw so many bad things that there were sometimes where I would wish that they would return me to my country,” she said.
“Remove the barriers that are causing this harm,” said Houston City Council Member, Robert Gallegos.
KPRC 2 obtained a copy of the letter a trooper, stationed in Eagle Pass, sent to DPS recounting several run-ins with migrants.
On June 30th, he recalled coming across approximately 120 migrants, including children, writing, “the entire group was exhausted hungry and tired. We called the shift officer in command, and we were given orders to push the people back into the water to go to Mexico,” the letter said. “We decided that this was not the correct thing to do. With the very real potential of exhausted people drowning. We made contact with command again and expressed our concerns and we were given the order to tell them to go to Mexico and get into our vehicle and leave.”
Lt. Chris Olivarez is the spokesperson for DPS.
“I can tell you they might have misinterpreted the fact that they were told to push them back after as to physically push them back which is not the case,” Lt. Olivarez said. “No trooper has been told to actually put hands on a migrant and push them back into the river.”
The Texas Senate Democratic Caucus released a letter Wednesday that shares a request for the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a formal investigation into the allegations made against the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Here is the text of the letter:
Dear Secretary Mayorkas:
The Texas Senate Democratic Caucus respectfully requests the Department of Homeland Security investigate the disturbing allegations of practices taking place along the Texas-Mexico border. As reported by the Houston Chronicle and others, a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) trooper has stated migrants are being forced into dangerous, life-threatening situations along the border near Eagle Pass where the state has installed miles of razor wire and buoys along the Rio Grande. Allegations include the following:
• A 19-year-old woman caught in the razor wire while experiencing a miscarriage;
• A four-year-old girl who fainted from heat exhaustion after she tried to pass through the razor wire but was pushed back by Texas National Guard soldiers;
• A 15-year-old boy whose father had to carry him out of the river after he broke his leg trying to get around the razor wire;
• A man suffering from lacerations after attempting to rescue his child trapped in the water by a razor-covered barrel;
• A mother and her two children who drowned trying to get around the buoys;
• A group of 120 migrants, including young children and nursing babies, pushed back into the river by DPS troopers; and
• A directive to deny migrants water despite record-breaking temperatures.
According to additional news reports, U.S. Border Patrol has had difficulty reaching migrants at high risk of drowning and dealt with at least seven medical emergencies in early July because of the razor wire and buoys deployed as part of Operation Lone Star. The latest reports also indicate some razor wire has been installed on private property despite the owner’s objections.
If true, these practices are immoral and an unconscionable deprivation of basic human rights. They also pose serious violations of international laws and treaties as well as federal and state laws.
Under the U.S. Constitution, the federal government has clear jurisdiction and authority over border security and immigration matters. As the Secretary of Homeland Security, we implore you to promptly investigate these allegations and take any necessary action. We can safeguard our border from criminal threats without endangering the lives of those whose only intent is to seek a better life for themselves and their children free from violence and abject poverty. As a nation that prides itself as a beacon of freedom, hope and opportunity, we can and must do better.
- Carol Alvarado
- Nathan Johnson
- John Whitmire
- Judith Zaffirini
- Royce West
- Juan Hinojosa
- José Menéndez
- Borris Miles
- Sarah Eckhardt
- Roland Gutierrez
- César Blanco
- Morgan LaMantia
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement on Tuesday refuting the allegations made in the Houston Chronicle report.