Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said Sunday Democrats’ accusations that Texas allowed migrants attempting to cross the southern border into the U.S. to drown in the Rio Grande by preventing Border Patrol from accessing the river are inaccurate.
Federal officials and U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, claimed the state was responsible for the deaths of three migrants – a woman and two children – on Friday after purporting that the Texas Military Department had denied Border Patrol access to the area to help six migrants in distress.
“This is a tragedy, and the State bears responsibility,” Cuellar said in a statement.
An investigation by the Texas Military Department determined the accusations were “wholly inaccurate,” explaining the drownings had already happened by the time Border Patrol requested access.
“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 said in a news release.
Abbott said in response to the investigation’s findings that Cuellar and others who blamed Texas for the drownings left out key facts.
“Turns out @RepCuellar (& some media) were so eager to point finger(sic) at Texas for drowning of migrants they forgot to get the facts,” Abbott wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “When BP requested access to river the drownings had already occurred & found in MX. The fact is the deaths are b/c of Biden’s Open Border magnet.”
The TMD said its soldiers were in direct communication with Border Patrol on Friday when it requested access to Shelby Park upon learning of distressed migrants. Soldiers said they told Border Patrol when it requested access that Mexican authorities had already recovered the bodies of two drowned migrants.
Border Patrol specifically requested access to the park to secure two additional migrants who were presumed to have traveled with the ones who had died, but had crossed to the boat ramp, the release said. Two migrants were apprehended by TMD, with one turned over to the Department of Public Safety and the other transferred to EMS for initial hypothermic conditions.
The soldiers continued to use lights, night vision goggles and thermals to ensure no more migrants were in the river or in distress, according to the release.
In response to the allegations against the TMD, the Department of Homeland Security sent a cease-and-desist letter to Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Sunday ordering the state to stop denying Border Patrol agents access to Shelby Park.