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Texas DPS institutes policy to open border barrier to those in medical distress

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(The Center Square) – Texas Department of Public Safety officers, Texas National Guard and local law enforcement officers working through Operation Lone Star are actively seeking to interdict cartel activity, including apprehending smugglers and traffickers on highways leading to and from border communities and in local communities.

They’ve also been working to block illegal entry between ports of entry along the Rio Grande River by erecting concertina wire and other barriers. They’re also issuing warnings and instructions to foreign nationals to turn back to Mexico and go to ports of entry.

After news outlets claimed OLS officers were pushing foreign nationals into the river who were trying to illegally enter Texas, a claim Texas officials refute, and as Gov. Greg Abbott maintains that Texas has the sovereign right to defend its border, DPS is now instituting a policy to open the barriers in the event of medical distress.

In an email recently sent to command leaders and troopers, DPS Commander Steve McCraw instructed troopers to open concertina wire barriers the state had erected to prevent illegal entry.

In response to media accusations and prior to the recent Department of Justice lawsuit over its border barriers, Texas officials said, “No orders or directions have been given under Operation Lone Star that would compromise the lives of those attempting to cross the border illegally.” Texas DPS and the Texas Military Department are monitoring illegal border crossers in distress, they said, including providing “appropriate medical attention when needed.”

At the same time, Travis Consident, Texas DPS Communications chief, posted images of text messages between McCraw and his chain of command about the challenges troopers are facing. He posted an email from Victor Escalon, regional director, DPS South Texas Region to DPS troopers.

In it, Escalon refers to an undated email from McCraw and says, “As we enforce state law, we may need to open the wire to aid individuals in medical distress, maintain the peace, and/or make an arrest of criminal trespass, criminal mischief, acts of violence, or other state crimes.”

Escalon noted that DPS’ medical unit is assigned to OLS to address medical concerns. As troopers enforce state law, he said, “we may need to aid those in medical distress and provide water as necessary.”

In a July 15 text posted by Consident, McCraw states that those attempting to illegally enter between ports of entry need to receive more verbal warnings and that DPS cares if they are injured. “We must take all necessary measures to mitigate the risk to them including injuries from trying to cross over the concertina wire, drownings, and dehydration,” he said.

McCraw also points out that a DPS Operational Medical Unit is engaging in water rescues. DPS is closely monitoring illegal border crossers, he texted, “in order to detect who may be in need of water rescue and or medical attention and that we are prepared to respond. Optimally, we will be able to deter them from risking their lives by attempting to cross the river between the Ports of Entry” and says they should be encouraged to go to ports of entry instead.

He also called for the OMU to conduct an audit of existing protocols to determine if more can be done to minimize the risk to illegal border crossers who are being “pushed across the river” by cartels.

In response to learning of the DPS policy of opening concertina barriers, Kinney County Attorney Brent Smith told The Center Square, “The constitutional authority reserved by the States in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution allows Texas to defend itself from the lawlessness and chaos that currently exists on our southern border with Mexico. The federal government has forsaken the safety and security of Texans in pursuit of its open border agenda. Texas must stand its ground and hold the line. Not one inch.”

Smith, who’s called on Abbott to call a special legislative session to create a border security agency, argues that “while DPS is very effective in performing criminal interdiction within the state of Texas, Governor Abbott’s state mission centers upon the securement of the Mexican border itself. The simple truth is that the command structure and mission training of DPS is not ideal to securing Texas’ border.”

DPS on a weekly basis “touting the high number of arrests and drug seizures occurring within the interior of the state,” Smith said, “only gives evidence of our failure to secure the actual border and preventing [criminal actors and crime] from traveling into the interior of Texas.

“You can pass all kinds of border protection laws but unless you have the agency and personnel to enforce them, they’re meaningless.”

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