Migrants cut by razor wire, denied water at Texas-Mexico border, DPS emails show

A pregnant teen caught in razor wire was among incidents in Operation Lone Star that a trooper called inhumane in a DPS email.

AUSTIN — A state trooper who was a part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s multibillion dollar border security operation said troopers are being told to push migrants back into the Rio Grande, he was ordered not to give some water and he also came across a 19-year-old pregnant woman caught in razor wire in Eagle Pass while she was having a miscarriage, according to an internal email sent earlier this month.

Nicholas Wingate, identified as a trooper and medic for the Texas Department of Public Safety, sent the email July 3, after he had been stationed in Eagle Pass from June 24 to July 1, his email read. Wingate was in the area for Operation Lone Star, Abbott’s border security effort that has stretched on for more than two years.

Wingate declined to comment when reached by The Dallas Morning News on Monday evening. The existence of the email was first reported by the Houston Chronicle.

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Wingate wrote in his e-mail that he watched a 15-year-old break his right leg while trying to avoid the razor wire deployed along the U.S.-Mexico border. A 4-year-old passed out from exhaustion and the scorching heat, he wrote to a superior.

“I truly believe in the mission of Operation Lone Star,” Wingate wrote. “I believe we have stepped over a line into the in humane (sic). We need to recognize that these are people who are made in the image of God and need to be treated as such.”


Concertina wire installed on the river’s banks is acceptable as a way to route migrants “to proper collection points” and “provide protection to the state,” Wingate wrote.

“The wire and barrels in the river needs to be taken out as this is nothing but a in humane [sic] trap in high water and low visibility,” he stressed.

He seemingly was referring to a barrel encircled with the sharp wire that was floating in the river, as well as to lengths of the concertina wire installed in the water.


Furthermore, the wire on land needs to be lit at night and continuously monitored by Texas personnel to avoid injuries, Wingate wrote.

On July 4, Trooper Brandon Tinsley forwarded Wingate’s email to another sergeant. Tinsley did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

“Several concerns were observed and recorded,” Tinsley wrote. “Trooper Wingate is the author of this recap, but together we discussed its contents and I fully co-sign the message.”

Travis Considine, a spokesman for DPS, said the agency does not have a policy against giving migrants water. He said the DPS Office of Inspector General opened an investigation into Wingate’s email to see if any department policies were violated.


Andrew Mahaleris, a spokesman for Abbott, did not specifically comment on the contents of Wingate’s email.

“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,” Mahaleris said in an emailed statement.

Texas has about 88 miles of razor wire fencing laid out as part of Operation Lone Star. The operation uses Texas National Guard members and DPS officers. In the recent legislative session, lawmakers appropriated $5.3 billion for the endeavor for the next two-year cycle, up from $4.6 billion from the previous cycle.


The DPS Regional Director for the South Texas Region reiterated in a July 15 email to staff that migrants should be given water and medical care.

DPS Director Steven McCraw also acknowledged in an email on July 15 that the razor wire led to an increase in injuries for migrants, according to an email he sent July 15. His email said that, in the previous week, DPS had identified seven incidents where migrants were injured from the wire.

McCraw’s email included photos where migrants required staples to close the lacerations.

This month, Texas began installing floating buoys along the Rio Grande to further deter migrants from crossing into the country illegally.