Democrats failed to ‘get the facts’ right in Texas migrant drowning incident, Governor Abbott says 

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By Carina

In a recent development, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas) has countered accusations from Democrats, stating on Monday that they had failed to “get the facts”  right regarding an incident where Texas authorities were alleged to have prevented Border Patrol from rescuing drowning illegal immigrants in the Rio Grande. 

This statement follows a clash between the Texas Military Department (TMD) and Democratic lawmakers, including criticism from the Biden administration.

TMD clarifies timeline of tragic Rio Grande drowning incident 

The TMD, responsible for the National Guard, explained on January 14 that Mexican authorities had already retrieved the bodies of a woman and two children from the Rio Grande before Border Patrol agents sought access to a 2.5-mile fenced-off area of the southern border at Eagle Pass on January 12. 

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This clarification came as a response to allegations made by a Democrat Congress member, challenging the accuracy of the initial claims. 

“At the time that Border Patrol requested access, the drownings had occurred, Mexican authorities were recovering the bodies, and Border Patrol expressed these facts to the TMD personnel on site,” the TMD stated on January 14.

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TMD reports on border patrol’s response to Rio Grande incident 

According to TMD, during the incident, Border Patrol agents informed TMD soldiers that Mexican authorities had already recovered the bodies. 

The TMD further explained that the federal agents sought access to apprehend two additional illegal immigrants presumed to be associated with the deceased. 

These immigrants were found at the Shelby Park boat ramp, with one-handed over to the Texas Department of Public Safety and the other to emergency medical services for hypothermic conditions.

Governor Abbott’s response and ongoing disputes

Governor Abbott, addressing the situation on X (formerly Twitter), criticized Democrats for hastily blaming Texas for the migrant drownings without proper investigation. 

“Democrats were so eager to point the finger at Texas for [the] drowning of migrants [that] they forgot to get the facts,” he stated. 

This incident has sparked a heated debate, with each side attributing the tragic deaths to the other’s border policies.

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Representative Cuellar’s claims and role of Shelby Park

Meanwhile, Representative Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) argued that Texas authorities denied Border Patrol agents access to Shelby Park, contributing to the drownings. 

Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar declared winner in Texas recount | PBS NewsHour
Credit: PBS

He stated on X that Mexican authorities retrieved the bodies on January 13 after the Border Patrol’s alleged request for access was denied. 

Cuellar claimed that Border Patrol agents, unable to contact Texas authorities by phone, were physically denied entry to the park. 

In contrast, on January 15, Abbott attributed the deaths to what he termed as “Biden’s Open Border magnet.”

Shelby Park at center of federal-Texas dispute over border control measures

Shelby Park has become a focal point in this dispute. Texas took control of the park on January 10 as a measure against illegal immigration. 

Border Patrol has used the park for launching patrol boats and processing detained illegal immigrants.

This incident underscores the ongoing clash between the federal and Texas state governments over border policies and jurisdiction. 

Texas defends its actions as necessary to protect its borders, citing a lack of federal support amidst increasing border crossings. 

Texas asserts border rights amid DHS legal threats over patrol access

The state argues for its constitutional right to independently safeguard its borders, especially given the perceived inadequacy of federal immigration law enforcement under President Biden’s administration.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), referencing the tragic drownings, has threatened legal action against Texas. 

DHS claims that Texas’s actions in blocking federal Border Patrol agents’ access to Shelby Park are unconstitutional. 

DHS and Governor Abbott clash over border patrol access

Jonathan Meyer, DHS General Counsel, demanded that Texas “cease and desist its efforts to block Border Patrol’s access in and around the Shelby Park area.”

In response, Governor Abbott remains firm, stating, “Biden is doing everything possible to eliminate strategies that actually prevent illegal immigrants from entering our country. Texas will continue to use every tool possible to block illegal immigration.” 

This statement highlights the ongoing tension between state and federal authorities over immigration policies and border security, with both sides remaining steadfast in their positions.

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