Texas DPS launches probe amid allegations troopers were told to push back migrant children into Rio Grande
The allegations were outlined by a trooper in an email obtained by ABC News.
The Inspector General of the Texas Department of Public Safety is conducting a full investigation into allegations that Texas troopers were ordered to push back those attempting to cross the border, including children, into the Rio Grande River and deny people water during extreme heat, Texas DPS spokesperson Travis Considine confirmed to ABC News.
The allegations were outlined by a trooper medic for Texas DPS in an email sent to his superior earlier this month that was first reported by the Houston Chronicle on Monday evening.
ABC News has obtained the original email from July 3 detailing some of the alleged conditions witnessed at the U.S. southern border in Texas, as migrants and asylum seekers attempt to cross into the country.
Amid scorching heat and treacherous conditions, officers at the border assigned to Texas' Operation Lone Star have been told to push back exhausted and hungry groups of people including families "seeking refuge" and nursing infants, according to the email from the trooper. Some had been caught in or injured by the razor wire deployed along the border, including children and even a pregnant and miscarrying young woman, according to the email.
ABC News has reached out to the trooper directly and to the The Texas State Troopers Association, the union representing the Texas troopers, but requests for comment were not returned.
Asked about the allegations that Texas National Guard soldiers pushed back migrants into the Rio Grande, the Texas Military Department's office of public affairs told ABC News in a statement on Tuesday that "there is no order or directive instructing Service Members to push illegal immigrants back into the river or deny them drinking water."
"The Texas National Guard mission is to work alongside our Texas law enforcement partners to prevent, deter and interdict transnational criminal activity between ports of entry," the statement said and directed any other inquires to Texas DPS.
The email was sent to a sergeant with the subject line "Weekly Event Log and Operational Concerns" on the afternoon of July 3.
Razor wire deployed by DPS along the Rio Grande is forcing people to cross in riskier sections of river -- and on a number of occasions, those attempting to cross get caught up and badly cut, according to the email.
A spokesperson for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's office declined to comment on the specific allegations but defended the use of razor wire when asked about the allegations outlined in the Houston Chronicle report.
"Texas is deploying every tool and strategy to deter and repel illegal crossings between ports of entry as President Biden's dangerous open border policies entice migrants from over 150 countries to risk their lives entering the country illegally," Andrew Mahaleris, press secretary for Abbott's office told ABC News in a statement on Tuesday. "The absence of razor wire and other deterrence strategies encourages migrants to make unsafe and illegal crossings between ports of entry, while making the job of Texas National Guard soldiers and DPS troopers more dangerous and difficult. President Biden has unleashed a chaos on the border that's unsustainable, and we have a constitutional duty to respond to this unprecedented crisis."
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to the Houston Chronicle report in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon, saying that if the allegations were true it would be "atrocious, barbaric, and downright wrong."
She also addressed the report during the White House briefing on Tuesday and criticized the policies of the Abbott administration in Texas.
"We're talking about the bedrock values of who you are as a country and the indecency, the human decency that we're seeing, potentially if this is true, is just wrong," the press secretary said.