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Texas officers take “full control” of Eagle Pass park against city’s wishes

By Uriel J. García, The Texas Tribune

Texas officers take “full control” of Eagle Pass park against city’s wishes” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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The Texas Department of Public Safety has closed and taken over a park in Eagle Pass on the banks of the Rio Grande against the wishes of city officials, Eagle Pass Mayor Rolando Salinas said Thursday.

In a video posted on Facebook, Salinas said he received a call from DPS officials on Wednesday to let him know that Gov. Greg Abbott had signed an emergency declaration and that officers would take “full control” of 47-acre Shelby Park indefinitely.

“That is not a decision that we agreed to. This is not something that we wanted. This is not something that we asked for as a city,” Salinas said in the video.

Salinas said he was told that the reason for the operation is to prevent immigrants from illegally crossing the Rio Grande into Texas.

Renae Eze, a spokesperson for Abbott, said in a statement that Texas is using different tactics to deter people from crossing the border illegally and blamed the Biden administration’s immigration policies.

“Texas will continue to deploy Texas National Guard soldiers, DPS troopers, and more barriers, utilizing every tool and strategy to respond to President Biden’s ongoing border crisis,” Eze said.

Eze also cited Abbott’s emergency declaration, which he originally signed in May 2021 and renewed in December.

The Border Vigil, a group of Eagle Pass residents who have criticized Abbott’s immigration policies, blasted the state’s move: “The Texas Governor’s emergency declaration and takeover of Shelby Park, where the Cross Memorial stands as a tribute to the unnecessary deaths on our border, is a cynical and cruel attempt to divert attention from his own failures and to undermine the efforts of the Mexican authorities and civil society to address the humanitarian crisis at the border.”

Eagle Pass has been the epicenter of Abbott’s immigration enforcement efforts in the past year. Thousands of migrants have crossed the border illegally in the area, and many have been injured trying to get through concertina wire the state has deployed on the banks of the Rio Grande.

In June, Salinas agreed — without the city council’s approval — to a DPS request to declare the park private property so state troopers could arrest migrants for trespassing. After residents complained about Salinas’ move, the city council and Salinas himself voted to rescind the original agreement with DPS.

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