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Texas troopers reportedly told to push migrants back into Rio Grande and deny them water

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Border security agents in Texas have allegedly been ordered to push migrants back into the Rio Grande river and to withhold water.

Concerns about the “inhumane” treatment of migrants along the border with Mexico were outlined in an email from an unnamed trooper to the Texas Department of Public Safety, as reported by the Houston Chronicle and CNN.

In the email the trooper said they “were given orders to push the people back into the water to go to Mexico” and ordered not to give them water despite the “extreme heat”.

Migrants try to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico. Pic: AP
Guardsmen watch as migrants try to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico. Pic: AP
Image:
Pics: AP

Officials in the Lone Star State have been criticised for deploying barrels wrapped in razor wire on the river, which the trooper described as “traps” in the email to a superior, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The email reportedly said the wire has increased the risk of drownings by forcing migrants into deeper parts of the river.

It detailed several incidents on the border in Eagle Pass last month, including one where a pregnant woman was trapped in wire while having a miscarriage.

In another, a four-year-old girl passed out from heat exhaustion after Texas National Guard soldiers pushed the group she was in back towards Mexico.

A man suffered a significant laceration to his leg when he tried to rescue his child from razor wire placed on a deterrence buoy, while a 15-year-old boy suffered a broken leg when he tried to cross a more dangerous part of the river away from the buoys.

It also said on 25 June troopers discovered a group of 120 people camped out along a fence set up along the river. The trooper stated the exhausted, hungry and tired group included several small children and babies who were nursing.

The email said the shift officer in command ordered troopers to “push the people back into the water to go to Mexico”.

But troopers decided it was not the right thing to do “with the very real potential of exhausted people drowning”, the email said. The migrants were told to leave the area, the trooper wrote.

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Order not to give people water ‘needs to be immediately reversed’

“Due to the extreme heat, the order to not give people water needs to be immediately reversed as well,” the trooper added.

A spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety told Sky News there is no directive or policy instructing troopers to withhold water from migrants or push them back into the river.

An unfinished strand of orange buoys in the Rio Grande River
Image:
A strand of orange buoys in the Rio Grande River

Commenting on the story, Joaquin Castro, a Democratic representative from Texas, said it was an “absolutely monstrous, inhumane policy”.

He tweeted to say he had raised the issue with Texas Governor Greg Abbott at a dinner with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and urged the administration “to remove the death traps Abbott has installed for the sake of human rights”.

In a statement to CNN, Mr Abbott, a Republican, said: “Texas is deploying every tool and strategy to deter and repel illegal crossings between ports of entry as President Biden’s dangerous open border policies entice migrants from over 150 countries to risk their lives entering the country illegally.

“The absence of razor wire and other deterrence strategies encourages migrants to make unsafe and illegal crossings between ports of entry, while making the job of Texas National Guard soldiers and DPS troopers more dangerous and difficult.”

Sky News has asked the Texas National Guard to comment.

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