Eagle Pass, Texas – January 14, 2024
At the US-Mexico border, a woman and two children lost their lives in the Rio Grande River on Friday night as they attempted to enter the United States. Tragically, Texas military officers reportedly prevented federal border officials from aiding the distressed migrants.
The incident occurred near Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, an area that is not designated as a legal port of entry. This location recently became a focal point of controversy as Texas National Guard officials reinforced it with concertina wire and fencing, obstructing traditional migration routes.
The federal government, in a filing to the US Supreme Court on Friday, accused Texas of erecting new barriers that impede federal Border Patrol agents from reaching a crucial boat ramp used to access the Rio Grande. The escalation in tensions is part of an ongoing dispute between Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the Biden administration over immigration policies.
According to US Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat, Border Patrol agents were alerted to a distressed group of migrants around 9 pm on Friday. Attempts to contact Texas officials by phone proved futile, prompting federal agents to visit the Shelby Park entrance in person.
Cuellar’s statement revealed that Texas Military Department (TMD) soldiers at the scene refused to grant access to the migrants, even in the face of an emergency. Instead, they assured a soldier would be dispatched to assess the situation.
Luis Miranda, a spokesperson for the US Department of Homeland Security, condemned the actions of Texas officials, alleging they physically barred US border agents from carrying out their duties of apprehending individuals crossing the border illegally and providing humanitarian aid.
Miranda criticized Governor Abbott’s policies as “cruel, dangerous, and inhumane,” emphasizing Texas’s interference with federal immigration authority as a significant risk.
Mexican authorities, responding promptly, recovered the bodies of the woman and two children on Saturday. As of now, the identities of the victims remain undisclosed.
Representative Cuellar expressed his dismay, holding the state responsible for the tragedy. However, the Texas Military Department presented a conflicting account, stating they actively searched the river but found no migrants in distress. They reported ceasing operations upon observing Mexican authorities responding to an incident on their side of the river.
This heartbreaking incident further intensifies the ongoing debate over immigration policies and the role of individual states in enforcing border controls, underscoring the complex challenges faced by migrants seeking a better life.