Under Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's border security initiative, officers have been given orders that put the safety of asylum seekers at risk, the Houston Chronicle reported. According to an email from a Department of Public Safety trooper, officers have been ordered to push small children and nursing babies back into the Rio Grande, and have been told not to give water to asylum seekers even in extreme heat, in actions described as “inhumane.” The account discloses several previously unreported incidents the trooper witnessed in Eagle Pass, where the state of Texas strung miles of razor wire and deployed a wall of buoys in the Rio Grande to be used as a border barrier. The email, which the trooper sent to a superior, suggests that Texas has set “traps” of razor wire-wrapped barrels in parts of the river with high water and low visibility. The email states the wire increased the risk of drownings by forcing migrants into deeper water.
In an email, DPS Director Steven McCraw called for an audit to determine if more can be done to minimize the risk to migrants. McCraw wrote that troopers should warn migrants not to cross the wire, redirect them to ports of entry, and to closely watch for anyone who needs medical attention. “The purpose of the wire is to deter smuggling between the ports of entry and not to injure migrants,” McCraw wrote. “The smugglers care not if the migrants are injured, but we do, and we must take all necessary measures to mitigate the risk to them including injuries from trying to cross over the concertina wire, drownings, and dehydration.” The incidents detailed in the email come as Abbott has stepped up efforts to physically bar migrants from entering the country through his Operation Lone Star initiative, which has drawn scrutiny from humanitarian groups that say the state is endangering asylum seekers.