ROME - Migrants and asylum seekers, including children, have been turned away by Texas officials, held down in sweltering heat these days and many have been injured by barbed wire installed during Operation Lone Star, complaint Human Rights Watch.
The facts. An email from a military doctor from the Texas Department of Public Safety describes a series of incidents that occurred between June 30 and July 1, 2023 in Eagle Pass, Texas. The email, reported for the first time by the newspaper Houston Chronicle on July 17, he clearly denounces the violations. A 4-year-old girl passed out from heatstroke after being pushed back towards the Rio Grande by Texas soldiers. The temperature was well over 38°. A 19-year-old pregnant woman was caught in barbed wire installed by the authorities and miscarried. A group of around 120 people, including children and babies, were trapped between the barbed wire and the river. A duty commanding officer from the Department of Public Safety advised the military not to provide aid, but to tell people to return to Mexico. A 15-year-old boy suffered a broken leg as razor wire installed by Texan authorities forced him to detour into a dangerous spot on the Rio Grande River.
The details of Operation Lone Star. The military doctor's email also notes that barbed wire has been placed in areas where it is easier to cross the river, thus prompting people to attempt more dangerous crossings. Five people have already drowned in the Rio Grande, the email said. "The events on the Texas-Mexico border are a reminder of the deadly impacts of Operation Lone Star," explains Bob Libal, a consultant at Human Rights Watch. "Texas is deliberately pushing people into barbed wire, heat exhaustion and dangerous river currents and knows they will suffer, be injured and die."
The financing of the operation. The US Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the incidents. Given the severity of the damage caused by the Lone Star program, Human Rights Watch it renewed its call for an end to all federal funding and cooperation with the operation. Even to the Texas legislature, which recently set aside $5.1 billion over the next two years for the same operation. Operation Lone Star has cost Texas residents at least $4.4 billion to date.
Buoy barriers on the Rio Grande. The pushbacks at the Texas-Mexico border documented in the military doctor's email are just the latest in a series of violations as part of Operation Lone Star. In early July, Texan Governor Greg Abbott announced that he would place buoy barriers in the middle of the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass, endangering not only migrants but also border guards. The Mexican government has countered that the barriers could violate a 1944 water treaty and promises to check to see if the buoys don't extend to the Mexican side of the river.
People keep running away. Human Rights Watch extensively documented the impact of Operation Lone Star, which resulted in injuries and deaths, consistently violated the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, as well as US citizens, and suppressed freedom of association and expression. Furthermore, the program did not slow down the migration in any way. Instead - writes the organization - it has systematically strengthened the criminal cartels dedicated to human trafficking.