Texas Takes Over Border Park
A public park in the border town of Eagle Pass has been taken over by state officials in an effort to prevent illegal border crossings, which may also lead to the cancellation of a planned memorial service for migrants who have died trying to cross the Southwest border.
The announcement was made by Eagle Pass Mayor Rolando Salinas in a social media post on Wednesday night, which revealed that the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Texas National Guard have put up a gate and sealed off Shelby Park, where the memorial service was set to take place on Saturday afternoon.
The annual ceremony, organized by Eagle Pass Border Vigil Founder Amerika Garcia Grewal, was intended to remember the many migrants who have lost their lives in pursuit of a better future. Over 700 wooden crosses had been placed on a field in Shelby Park near International Bridge 1, and attendees were expected to sing and commemorate the lives lost. However, with the park now closed indefinitely, it is unlikely that the event will be able to take place as planned.
The decision to close the park came as a shock to both organizers and residents alike, as the number of migrants attempting to cross the border from Piedras Negras, Mexico, has significantly decreased in recent days. According to officials, the number has dropped from over 4,000 per day to just 400 per day. Garcia Grewal, who had been coordinating the event, said that the situation at the border had improved significantly, with the nearby Hope Mission Border migrant shelter being practically empty.
NEW: The Texas Military Department confirms the TX National Guard has seized control of Shelby Park in Eagle Pass (city property where mass illegal crossings are), and is restricting Border Patrol from accessing the area, saying the Feds “perpetuate illegal crossings”. This is… pic.twitter.com/29UqFmWDsx
— Bill Melugin (@BillMelugin_) January 12, 2024
Governor Greg Abbott’s spokesperson, Renae Eze, released a statement to Border Report stating that Texas is taking measures to “hold the line” at the southern border in response to the record-high levels of illegal immigration. The state has deployed National Guard soldiers, DPS troopers, and additional barriers to deter and repel migrants.
Eze also pointed to President Biden’s “reckless open border policies” as being responsible for inviting “unfettered access” to Mexican cartels. Governor Abbott had declared a border disaster in 2021, which was renewed in December, and includes Maverick County, where Eagle Pass is located.
Garcia Grewal expressed her disbelief and disappointment at the closure of Shelby Park, stating that it had become a popular spot for families to celebrate holidays and birthdays. She also mentioned that the large parking lot offered residents free parking spaces to visit Piedras Negras or shop in the downtown district. “We’ve lost our park. We have lost 35 acres of access to our park, and it’s the only public boat ramp” in the city, she said.
Salinas clarified in his Facebook post that the closure of the park was not a decision made by the City of Eagle Pass, but rather, the state using its emergency declaration to carry out its mission. When asked about the duration of the mission, state officials reportedly told Salinas that it would be indefinite. The mayor also mentioned that a similar incident had occurred last year when he authorized the park to be turned over to state officials, but the order was later revoked.
The closure of the park has sparked controversy and criticism, with many residents expressing their frustration and disappointment. The loss of access to the park not only affects the planned memorial service but also impacts the daily lives of the residents who use the park for recreational purposes.
With the park now under state control, it remains to be seen how long the closure will last and what impact it will have on the local community.