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Eagle Pass City Council takes back public park central to Gov. Abbott’s border operation

A park along the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass was used as a staging area for Operation Lone Star.
Angela Piazza
A park along the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass was used as a staging area for Operation Lone Star.

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In a blow to Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, the Eagle Pass City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to rescind an affidavit declaring a local park the mayor’s private property.

The 47-acre Shelby Park sits on the banks of the Rio Grande. It offers walking trails, sports fields, and a public boat ramp for access to the border river.

Under the direction of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Eagle Pass Mayor Rolando Salinas signed an affidavit last June declaring the park his personal property.

Five tractor trailers loaded with the four-foot diameter buoy balls arrived Friday in Eagle Pass. When assembled, they will make a thousand-foot-long obstacle for migrants crossing the Rio Grande.

This allowed DPS to close the park to the public, line the river bank with shipping containers and razor wire, and arrest migrants there on state criminal trespassing charges with a penalty of up to a year in prison.

The park also served as a staging area for Abbott’s floating wall, a 1,000 foot string of buoy barriers meant to deter illegal immigration.

Abbott faces lawsuits from the Justice Department and a local business owner over the buoys, arguing they are a public safety hazard as well as a threat to the environment and diplomatic relations with Mexico.

The riverside city, sometimes referred to as 'La Puerta de Mexico' or 'Mexico’s Door,' 'is at the center of a struggle between the State of Texas and the federal government over shutting that door to illegal immigration.

After hearing citizen complaints for over an hour Tuesday night, the Eagle Pass City Council voted to rescind the affidavit and enter into negotiations with Operation Lone Star for future park use.

The affidavit rescinding could result in hundreds of criminal trespassing cases against migrants being tossed out of court.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi