Texas officials have revived a highly criticized anti-immigrant practice of the Trump administration while claiming their approach is more humane.
The Houston Chronicle reports that in recent weeks, Texas Department of Public Safety officers have broken up at least two dozen families in a revival of the Trump-era family separation policy.
A Texas official said this new practice — which appears to violate state guidelines — is more humane because only the fathers are separated from their wives and children.
“There have been instances in which DPS has arrested male migrants on state charges who were with their family when the alleged crime occurred,” DPS spokesman Travis Considine told the Chronicle. “Children and their mothers were never separated, but instead turned over to the US Border Patrol together.”
Those fathers were arrested on trespassing charges, according to Kristin Etter, an attorney and special project director at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.
This is “nothing short of state-sponsored family separation.”
This is “nothing short of state-sponsored family separation,” Etter told the Chronicle. She said she knows of at least 26 families that have been split up since July 10.
These actions are being taken by Texas officials, not by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been at war with the Biden administration over border policy and has constructed a barrier made of buoys in the middle of the Rio Grande River. Abbott also has been responsible for busing thousands of migrants to cities in other far-away states, including New York City.
Until now, state troopers have been told to keep families together and send them to federal authorities to make their asylum claims. But now, fathers are being arrested and jailed while the rest of the family is sent to Border Patrol.
Attorneys representing those migrants say many of those fathers remain in state custody and have not seen their families.
Dan Gordon of the National Immigration Forum wrote about this new practice in his Aug. 2 newsletter: “I say this as a father: For shame.”
“I say this as a father: For shame.”
Abbott and those he controls have been criticized for their harsh treatment of migrants seeking aid, including denying them water and, according to some reports, pushing them back into the water to keep them off Texas land.
U.S. Border Patrol agents have said Texas officials are obstructing their work.
The family separations are taking place near Eagle Pass, Texas, where Abbott’s crackdown has its epicenter. Eagle Pass is located near Piedras Negras, Mexico, along the eastern portion of the Texas-Mexico border.
Meanwhile, El Paso County has sent a letter to Abbott opposing the state’s border policies and “cruelty” toward migrants, according to Julian Resendiz of Border Report. The county also plans to write the U.S. Department of Justice to support a lawsuit demanding Texas remove the barriers in the Rio Grande.