Cuellar, a Democrat from Laredo, broke the news with a statement posted to X on Saturday afternoon that detailed the decision-making process of state troops who would not assist, nor grant access to the migrants.
The migrants were attempting to access Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, the area that state troopers and National Guard members have blocked federal Border Patrol agents from accessing this week. That lack of access for the Border Patrol played a factor in the horrifying scenario on Friday night.
“Border Patrol attempted to contact the Texas Military Department, the Texas National Guard, and DPS Command Post by telephone to relay the information [of the migrants in distress], but were unsuccessful,” Cuellar’s statement read. “Border Patrol agents then made physical contact with the Texas Military Department and the Texas National Guard at the Shelby Park Entrance Gate and verbally relayed the information. However, Texas Military Department soldiers stated they would not grant access to the migrants – even in the event of an emergency – and that they would send a soldier to investigate the situation.”
Cuellar clarified his original statement on X by adding “To clarify: the Texas Military Department and the Texas National Guard did not grant access to Border Patrol agents to save the migrants.”
Gov. Greg Abbott has not yet made a public statement regarding the deaths.
See below my statement on the recent death of three migrants – a female adult and two children – near Shelby Park in Eagle Pass ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/0Fz878fnDg
— Rep. Henry Cuellar (@RepCuellar) January 13, 2024
The migrant deaths came just a day after the Texas governor made news for making light of the lengths state troops would go to prevent illegal border crossings.
“We are deploying every tool and strategy that we possibly can,” Abbott said during a recent interview on The Dana Loesch Show. “The only thing that we’re not doing is we’re not shooting people who come across the border because, of course, the Biden administration would charge us with murder.”
While the three deaths on Friday night are noteworthy, especially given they occurred in an area where Abbott ordered National Guard members to take control, and then prevent migrant-processing Border Patrol agents from being there, this also represents the latest deadly incident along the border.
In August, Abbott responded to the deaths of two migrants along the border by issuing a statement saying “Operation Lone Star Stops Criminals at President Biden’s Open Border.”
This is the same section of the border that has been the subject of the legal showdown between Abbott and President Joe Biden over the floating buoy barriers equipped with razor wire. In December, the state was ordered by a federal appeals court to remove the barriers from the river.
The Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives posted a response to the Friday night deaths, making reference to Abbott’s Thursday remarks about shooting migrants.
“Governor Abbott doesn’t need to shoot migrants—his Operation Lone Star is already killing migrants,” the tweet read. “We demand a full and transparent investigation into how Texas officials refrained from assisting people drowning while purposely blocking federal immigration officials from doing their job.”