Texas traps pregnant migrants in razor wire, pushes kids back into Rio Grande, state trooper complains

Razor wire at U.S. border in Texas
(Image credit: Suzanne Cordeiro / AFP via Getty Images)

Rolls of razor wire Texas installed along the U.S. side of the Rio Grande have ensnared several migrants, including a pregnant woman "in obvious pain" while having a miscarriage and a father trying to free his child "stuck on a trap" of razor wire–covered barrels in the water, a Texas state trooper wrote in July 3 email to a superior, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday.

The Dallas Morning News also obtained the email and a corroborating July 4 note from a second Department of Public Safety trooper. Both were identified by name. In recent weeks, as part of Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) "Operation Lone Star" border initiative, Texas has rolled out about 88 miles of razor wire along the Rio Grande and also put buoys in the middle of the river to deter migrants from crossing over from Mexico. This has sparked conflicts with the U.S. Border Patrol, complaints from local businesses, and legal challenges from Mexico.

The trooper, stationed in Eagle Pass, said Operation Lone Star service members have been ordered to push children back into the Rio Grande and told not to give water to asylum seekers even as Texas sweltered in extreme heat.

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He recounted seeing National Guard soldiers push a 4-year-old girl trying to cross the razor wire back into the river "due to the orders given to them," adding that the girl then passed out from exhaustion in temperatures "well over 100 degrees." The 4-year-old girl, 19-year-old pregnant woman, and others lacerated by the razor wire or injured trying to avoid it in the June 30 incidents were transferred to emergency medical services, the trooper wrote.

On June 25, he added, troopers came across a group of 120 hungry and exhausted people, including small children and nursing babies, resting along the river. The shift officer in command ordered the troopers to "push the people back into the water to go to Mexico," the trooper recounted, and when the troopers refused and asked for new guidance, they were told to drive off. Other troopers and federal Border Patrol agents then stepped in and provided care to the migrants.

"I truly believe in the mission of Operation Lone Star," the trooper wrote. "I believe we have stepped over a line into the inhumane." He specifically said migrants need to be given water, and "the wire and barrels in the river needs to be taken out as this is nothing but a in humane [sic] trap in high water and low visibility."

DPS spokesman Travis Considine told the Chronicle there is no policy against giving water to migrants and passed along emails from DPS Director Steven McCraw acknowledging seven additional cases in July of migrants needing "elevated medical attention" due to the razor wire. McCraw called for a safety audit and investigation of the trooper's reports. A spokesman for Abbott said "Texas is deploying every tool and strategy to deter and repel illegal crossings between ports of entry," criticizing President Biden's border policies.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.