Texas border control policies are being heavily criticized after a state trooper said employees were told to push migrants “back into the water” of the Rio Grande when they reach the American side of the river as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security initiative.
The criticisms come after reports were published late Monday by Hearst Newspapers quoting an email sent by one trooper from the Texas Department of Public Safety and backed up by another that migrants’ lives were being put in danger by Abbott’s Operation Lone Star.
According to a January press release, Operation Lone Star has “led to over 340,000 illegal immigrant apprehensions and more than 23,000 criminal arrests, with more than 21,000 felony charges reported” since the program’s start in March 2021.
Here’s what we know about the situation in Texas so far.
What did the email from the state trooper contain?
The trooper, who is a medic and made it clear in the email to his superior that he supports the aims of the initiative, listed several incidents in the Del Rio area in late June and early July during in which migrants were distressed.
Those events included injured children, a pregnant woman who miscarried and many others not given water or proper medical care despite intense heat.
He also noted that five migrants drowned in the river and that others were injured by the razor wire installed by Texas along the Rio Grande.
“I truly believe in the mission of Operation Lone Star; I believe we have stepped over a line into the inhumane,” Trooper Nicholas Wingate said in his email to a Texas Department of Public Safety sergeant. “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 a follow-up email, Trooper Brandon Tinsley corroborated the account.
“Trooper Wingate is the author of this recap, but together we discussed its contents and I fully co-sign the message,” Tinsley wrote.