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Texas Department of Public Safety Takes Over Eagle Pass Park Against City’s Wishes

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has asserted control over Shelby Park in Eagle Pass along the Rio Grande, a move not in alignment with the city’s wishes, according to Eagle Pass Mayor Rolando Salinas. This development comes as part of efforts to prevent unauthorized border crossings.

DPS Takes Control of Shelby Park

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Despite objections from Eagle Pass city officials, the DPS has officially closed and assumed authority over Shelby Park, a 47-acre area along the Rio Grande. Mayor Rolando Salinas expressed his disapproval, stating that this decision was neither sought nor agreed upon by the city.

Emergency Declaration by Gov. Abbott

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DPS’s actions were initiated following an emergency declaration signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. This declaration grants the state “full control” of Shelby Park indefinitely, as revealed to Mayor Salinas in a call from DPS officials.

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Objective: Preventing Unauthorized Border Crossings

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The primary objective cited for this operation is to deter immigrants from illegally crossing the Rio Grande into Texas. The state authorities have taken this measure as part of a broader response to what they characterize as a border crisis influenced by the Biden administration’s immigration policies.

Statement from Gov. Abbott’s Spokesperson

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Renae Eze, a spokesperson for Governor Abbott, expressed the state’s commitment to deploying various strategies and resources to address the border situation. She emphasized that this action is a response to President Biden’s perceived border crisis.

Reference to Emergency Declaration Renewal

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Eze pointed out that Governor Abbott had initially signed the emergency declaration in May 2021 and subsequently renewed it in December. This declaration provides the legal basis for the state’s intervention in Eagle Pass.

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Border Vigil’s Critique

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The Border Vigil, a group comprising Eagle Pass residents critical of Abbott’s immigration policies, criticized the state’s actions.

Attempt To Divert Attention

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They viewed the takeover of Shelby Park, which houses the Cross Memorial commemorating border-related fatalities, as an attempt to divert attention from perceived failures and undermine Mexican authorities’ efforts to address the border’s humanitarian crisis.

Eagle Pass’ Immigration Challenges

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Eagle Pass has been at the forefront of Governor Abbott’s immigration enforcement initiatives over the past year. The region has witnessed a significant influx of migrants crossing the border illegally, with some sustaining injuries while navigating concertina wire deployed by the state along the Rio Grande.

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Salinas’ Previous Agreement with DPS

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In June, Mayor Salinas agreed, without city council approval, to a DPS request to classify the park as private property. This classification allowed state troopers to arrest migrants for trespassing.

Public Backlash

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However, public backlash led to the reversal of this agreement, with the city council and Mayor Salinas voting to rescind the original arrangement with DPS.

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