A leaked email from a Texas state trooper describing "inhumane" conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border, including children and breast-feeding mothers being denied water, is once again thrusting into the spotlight Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's intensifying measures to block migrants from crossing the Rio Grande.
Texas border officials have strung miles of razor wire and built a wall of buoys in the river as part of a $4 billion effort from Gov. Abbott called Operation Lone Star, through which Texas counties can deploy the National Guard to assist in border arrests and busing migrants to other cities.
In emails first obtained by Hearst Newspapers and reported by the Associated Press, trooper and medic Nicolas Wingate told his superiors at the Texas Department of Public Safety he witnessed what he called "inhumane" treatment in Maverick County.
Among dozens of instances Wingate says he witnessed: A 4-year-old girl collapsing from sweltering heat, a pregnant 19-year-old trapped in razor wire while suffering a miscarriage, and a father slicing open his leg on wire as he tried to save his son from an underwater "trap."
According to the AP, the email showed a log of 38 medical encounters between June 25 and July 1 with migrants suffering cuts, broken bones and even drowning.
On June 25, Wingate wrote to supervisors that when he found a group of 120 migrants — including nursing mothers and young children — he was ordered to deny them water and "push the people back into the water to go to Mexico."
At the time, AccuWeather reports showed the temperature reached a scorching 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
Scripps News caught a glimpse of the dangerous conditions in Maverick Country when National Guard officials rushed to help a young boy who passed out from likely heat illness and dehydration.
Wingate also wrote the wire is increasing the risk of drowning by pushing people into deeper parts of the river.
"I believe we have stepped over a line into the inhumane. We need to operate it correctly in the eyes of god," Wingate wrote, as he called for policy changes.
On Tuesday, Governor Abbott's office issued a joint statement with local agencies denying they gave orders that would "compromise the lives" of migrants.
The statement also said that without tools and strategies like the wire, migrants would be encouraged to make "potentially life-threatening and illegal crossings."
A spokesperson with the Texas Department of Public Safety did not return Scripps News' request for comment, but a spokesperson told the AP the department is internally investigating Wingate's complaints.
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