The undeclared international competition to see who can abuse migrants and asylum seekers most brutally has a new entry from the US.
Officials in Texas are deliberately pushing people, including children, toward razor wire and into dangerous river currents, knowing they will be injured and may die.
An email from a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper medic details recent events at Eagle Pass on the Rio Grande river at the border with Mexico. First reported by the Houston Chronicle this week, the email describes horrific scenes.
In temperatures well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 C), Texas National Guard soldiers pushed back a four-year-old girl, who then passed out from heat exhaustion.
A 19-year-old pregnant woman got caught in razor wire and had a miscarriage.
Some 120 people, including young children and nursing babies, were stranded between the razor wire and the river. A Department of Public Safety shift command officer told troopers not to provide aid.
The placement of razor wire is central to the story. The Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard have put razor wire in areas where it is easier to cross the river, driving people to attempt more dangerous crossings.
The trooper’s email highlights how five people drowned near Eagle Pass. One was a mother with two kids. She and one child were pulled from the river and declared dead soon after. The second child was never found.
The illegal pushbacks and associated horrors at the border, apparently now under investigation by federal authorities, are the latest in a series of escalations under Operation Lone Star in Texas. The state program has led to injuries and deaths and consistently violated the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, as well as US citizens.
Inhumanity has become so commonplace, it’s not even recognized for what it is.
I doubt any Texas official comes home in the evening and thinks much about how they helped drown two babies and forced a toddler to drop dead from heat exhaustion. They don’t think like that because it appears they don’t see the victims as human at all.
If they saw a migrant child first and foremost as a child, there’s no way they would push that child toward razor wire or into raging currents. They surely wouldn’t do that with their own children or their neighbor’s children.
But on the job, these officials have lost the connection to any sense of morality they may have in other parts of their lives. Dehumanizing rhetoric from leading politicians has surely helped push them in this mental direction. Matching state policies provide formal approval and encouragement from above to move from dehumanizing thoughts to inhuman actions.
The result is, what individual officers should see – what any normal person would see – as horrific abuses against children become for them just another day on the job.
This disconnection of the individual from their own sense of morality is so often at the heart of systematic human rights abuses, particularly those against migrants and asylum seekers today. Not only in Texas, but around the world.