Border Crisis

‘Texas Border Showdown’ Wrought with Political Spin and Misinformation

EAGLE PASS, Texas — As the fury heats up in the ongoing Shelby Park dispute between the Department of Homeland Security and the State of Texas, the first casualty may be the truth. One part of the political narrative that is less than forthcoming is the idea that Texas was prompted to seize the park while thousands of migrants were crossing daily. Another element of the state’s narrative in opposition to the reality on the ground is that bold actions by Texas after the seizure occurred are responsible for slowing down the record-breaking levels of migrant crossings witnessed in December.

The truth is that by the time Texas took action to fence off Shelby Park and expel Border Patrol agents, the park had already been cleared of migrants and Mexican officials had taken action to apprehend migrants along the border and ship them back into central or southern Mexico.

On Friday, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick addressed reporters outside the park, offering commentary that seemed to clash with actual events preceding the seizure of the small Texas border park. Patrick continued to push the same narrative on a weekend media blitz, repeating the same false narrative on a major news network.

In Eagle Pass, Patrick spoke to reporters at the park and said, “A few weeks ago, months ago, there were thousands crossing, no one’s crossing. We have secured this part of the border; we have secured it!” As he made the statement at the gates of the park, Patrick gestured towards the inside of the seized park, now gated off from the small border town. The park, that rests along the banks of the Rio Grande contains the city’s municipal golf course, baseball and soccer fields, and a boat launch pad and is now, one of the most heavily guarded 2.5 mile stretches of the United States/Mexico border.

Over the weekend, Patrick appeared on Fox News telling Trace Gallagher he was happy the Biden administration decided not to cut the wire at the park, where, according to Patrick, four months ago, three thousand people were crossing each day. Patrick proclaimed the measures taken by the State of Texas had brought those numbers down to zero as he visited the park earlier.

The problem with Patrick’s assessment of the first battle of Shelby Park is that it is simply not true. As recently as December, nearly 5,000 migrants crossed daily into the Shelby Park area, where Border Patrol agents, Texas authorities, and the Texas Military Department were powerless to stop the never-ending streams of migrants from crossing the river into the area. The wire, more than 20 miles of it, was not capable of stopping the migrant surge of thousands per day and was quickly defeated by the migrants using garbage strewn along the Rio Grande to avoid injury as they marched across it.

Patrick’s story regarding an imaginary battle to seize the park and stop the hordes of migrants with wire and reduce the crossings to zero contradicts Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson who documented an empty park just ten days before the State of Texas seized it. The fictional battle to bring the park under control never happened, and Fox News, who has documented the migrant crisis in the area more than any other major television news network, offered no pushback against Patrick’s false claims.

Patrick’s statements differ significantly from those made by Speaker of the Speaker Johnson’s assessment of how and why the migrant flow in December at the park was brought under control. In the process of a well-deserved impeachment move against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the House is little helped by Patrick’s claims that differ from Speaker Johnson’s assessment. The two versions differ more than substantially — the two versions presented contradict each other wholly.

On January 3, as reported by Breitbart Texas, a contingent of 65 Republican legislators, including Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, visited the park area, only to discover it void of the thousands of migrants regularly being staged outdoors in the Shelby Park area less than one week earlier.

In a Twitter posting on January 2, some ten days before the State’s seizure of the park, Speaker Johnson tweeted opposing before and after photos referencing the Shelby Park area. One photo, taken in December, showed thousands of migrants staged outdoors. The other, taken at the time of his visit, showed the same seized area void of any migrants whatsoever. A statement in the tweet pronounced, “The Biden Administration decided to divert the flood of illegal immigrants to another location to keep them out of the camera shots during @HouseGOP’s visit to Eagle Pass. Don’t be fooled; they are still being released into our country.”

In a previous report by Breitbart Texas, a source claimed steps had been taken to reduce migrant detention levels at a Border Patrol facility in Eagle Pass in the lead-up to the January congressional visit by means of accelerated migrant releases to a non-government shelter and directly onto the streets of the border city.

This reporter authored the article, the contents of which were cited (footnote 2, page 1) in a January 11, 2024 letter from Speaker Johnson to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Co-signed by Jim Jordan, Chairman of the Committee of the Judiciary and Mark E. Green, MD, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, dated on the same day the seizure of Shelby Park occurred.

The letter requested Mayorkas provide documents and communications related to actions taken to reduce migrant detention levels in Eagle Pass and any effort to divert or delay the entry of foreign nationals who were headed to the United States and likely to enter through Eagle Pass or the Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector.

Johnson’s request for information regarding foreign nationals headed to the United States to enter through Eagle Pass implies a perception that actions by Mexico stopped, re-routed, or slowed migrant traffic headed to the Shelby Park area prior to the Speaker’s visit.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas traveled to Mexico to meet with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) just days before the Congressional delegation traveled to Eagle Pass, which found Shelby Park almost completely void of migrants.

After the Mexico meeting, AMLO requested $20 Billion in U.S. funding for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and also requested the lifting of sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba. The drop in migrant traffic signaled AMLO kept his side of the bargain, but for how long and at what cost?

An article by Border Hawk News shows Mexican soldiers actively patrolling migrant crossing points, operating highway checkpoints to screen for migrants, and removing migrants by air from Piedras Negras to parts farther south in Mexico. These actions were not taken prior to the Blinken-Mayorkas visit with AMLO. Mexico has also increased its actions to remove migrants from freight trains to slow their arrival to parts of the southwest border.

Either Joe Biden made the migrants disappear, or the media on both sides of the border were asleep and missed the epic first battle for Shelby Park in the lead-up to Governor Patrick’s “We have secured it!” victory speeches over the weekend.

In reality, the actual skirmishes in the battle between the Biden Administration and the State of Texas consist of a letter-writing contest between the Department of Homeland Security and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton regarding the state imposition of entry conditions for the Border Patrol into Shelby Park. The state allows the Border Patrol to enter the park to launch airboats freely; others must request permission to enter for migrant rescues.

The prevailing narrative presented led people to believe the legal wrangling in the courts regarding the cutting or manipulation of concertina wire between the two parties is binary: “Biden wants to cut wire, and Texas refuses to allow it.” That narrative is oversimplifying the matter at hand. Missing from the dialogue regarding the pending legal case is the fact that both parties agree in the court wrangling that the wire MUST be cut.

As reported by Breitbart News senior legal contributor Ken Klukowski (a lawyer who served in the White House and Justice Department) in the decision favoring Texas in the matter, the court concluded in the decision granting an injunction,By September 2023, Texas had installed over 29 miles of c-wire in [the Eagle Pass] area. Both the Border Patrol and Texas agree that the c-wire must be cut in the event of an emergency, such as the threat of a migrant’s drowning or suffering heat exhaustion. (Emphasis Added) The problem arises when Border Patrol agents cut the wire without prior notification to Texas for reasons other than emergencies.”

Touting concertina wire as the end-all border security solution, which both parties agree must be cut at times, takes focus away from the substantive consequence-based changes in policy required to secure the border.

The simple fact is that the wire is easily defeated; if not, we would send wire to war and not soldiers. It slows people down, as any barrier does. But without a real policy that involves meaningful consequences behind the barriers, touting their value is detrimental and only fuels a false sense of security.

Randy Clark / Breitbart

Nothing new or revolutionary was ever on the table in the battle for Shelby Park. When Mexico’s increased law enforcement efforts to slow migrant traffic ceases or fails, Texas is in for another mad rush of migrants somewhere, this political stunt will have done nothing to prevent or cope with it.

Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol.  Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.



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