Eagle Pass, Texas, has turned into the epicenter of a growing feud between Texas and federal authorities over how to tackle the migrant crisis and who has jurisdiction over that part of the US-Mexico border.
The dispute intensified on January 10, when Texas authorities effectively blocked US Border Patrol agents from a 2.5-mile area in Eagle Pass, which had seen a surge of migrant crossings. This area includes Shelby Park, a city park on the Rio Grande that is now fenced off with gates and razor wire – impeding the Border Patrol’s access.
On January 12, after the Texas Military Department “seized and secured Shelby Park,” two children and a mother drowned in a nearby part of the Rio Grande. Now, Texas and US officials are accusing each other of contributing to the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.
Here’s a timeline of the ongoing fracas at Eagle Pass:
Wednesday, January 10:
The Texas National Guard blocked the Border Patrol from placing mobile surveillance equipment inside Shelby Park, according to Robert Danley, lead field coordinator for US Customs and Border Protection for the Del Rio area.
Additionally, Texas stated denying the Border Patrol from accessing several miles of the border, a law enforcement source familiar with operations told CNN. Around that time, state authorities started erecting razor wire, fencing and gates to shut off access to Shelby Park, an adjoining golf course and an area under the port of entry bridge federal agents had been using as a waiting area for migrants.
Friday, January 12:
At around 8 p.m. CT, Mexico’s National Institute of Migration learned about the drowning deaths of two children and a woman, which occurred in the area of the Shelby Park boat ramp, Danley wrote.
Around 9 p.m. CT, a Border Patrol supervisor from the Eagle Pass station was informed of the three drownings, Danley said in a declaration to the US Supreme Court. Mexico’s National Institute of Migration also told the Border Patrol supervisor two other migrants were in distress on the US side of the Rio Grande, near the Shelby Park boat ramp, Danley said.
“The Acting Border Patrol Supervisor responded to the Shelby Park entrance gate, which was closed upon his arrival,” Danley wrote.
“From the outside of the gate, the Acting Border Patrol Supervisor advised three guardsmen from the Texas National Guard (TNG) through the gate three migrants drowned earlier in the evening and two were in distress on the U.S. side of the river,” Danley continued.
“The gate remained closed during the conversation, and the TNG guardsmen advised the Acting Supervisory Border Patrol Agent through the gate they had been ordered not to let Border Patrol in through the gate or give Border Patrol access to Shelby Park.”
According to Danley, the Texas National Guard member told the acting Border Patrol supervisor “they had been ordered not to let Border Patrol in through the gate or give Border Patrol access to Shelby Park.”
The Border Patrol supervisor then asked to speak with a Texas National Guard supervisor and again relayed the information that three migrants had drowned earlier in the evening and two migrants were in distress on the US side of the Rio Grande, Danley said.
The guard staff sergeant allegedly said Border Patrol was not allowed in the area, “even in emergency situations.” Instead, the staff sergeant sent Texas guardsmen to investigate, Danley wrote.
Saturday, January 13:
Mexico’s National Institute of Migration told the Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector seven migrants – in two groups – had tried to cross the Rio Grande the night before, Danley wrote.
The first group included five migrants: a mother and two children who drowned, plus two migrants who were rescued by Mexico’s National Institute of Migration. “Mexican officials were able to recover the bodies of the drowned mother and two children,” Danley wrote.