‘I think it’s an impediment’: Chief Patrol Agent of Del Rio sector discusses Border Patrol’s relationship with DPS

EAGLE PASS, Texas – For dozens of miles, Border Patrol agents travel up and down along the Rio Grande.

KSAT was invited for an exclusive ride-along as Border Patrol agents on boat patrol watched for signs of smuggling and illegal crossings.

They showed us spots along the river where they’ve seen groups of migrants crossing.

The sight between the U.S. and Mexico — especially near Shelby Park — is distinct on the river.

In Piedras Negras, people are fishing on the river, picnicking and looking at vibrant murals.

On the Eagle Pass side are stacks of cargo boxes, fences, and silver coils of razor and concertina wire placed by the state.

Border Patrol agents told KSAT the closest they can get to that is from the river.

In January, Texas took “full control” of Shelby Park.

“We’re approaching six months since that takeover happened. How has that impacted what Border Patrol does?” asked reporter Daniela Ibarra.

“I don’t know that it, it’s probably some nuisance hindrance to it, (which) makes it a little more difficult to patrol that area,” said Chief Patrol Agent Robert Danley with Border Patrol.

Danley oversees a 245-mile stretch of the border, including Shelby Park.

Besides access to a boat ramp, Danley said his agents can’t get in.

“Well, I think it’s an impediment,” he said. “We’ve had to make some adjustments to the way that we operate, to try to keep our, you know, surety of being able to take action when necessary.”

Earlier this year, the Justice Department stepped in, asking the Supreme Court to order Texas to stop blocking Border Patrol agents from the park.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Texas has the authority to control access to any geographic location in the state.

“I’m just curious. Have you had a conversation with Governor Abbott?” asked Ibarra.

“No, I would have conversations with the DPS director,” Danley said. “I know some of my subordinates talked directly with the National Guard and other people at their level. But, I think Governor Abbott, you know, his position is not for me to talk to him unless he wants to come down and want to talk to us.”

KSAT asked Danley if he would consider Texas and Border Patrol partners.

“Absolutely,” responded Danley.

He said DPS agents who catch migrants in Shelby Park turn them over to Border Patrol.

When asked by KSAT, Danley said it would “absolutely” help if the state allowed Border Patrol agents back into the park.

“Anything that slows us down, I don’t think is good,” he said. “And, you know, I’m looking forward to seeing what the courts end up saying about it in the near future.”

“What are some misunderstandings that you think people have about that relationship between Border Patrol and the state of Texas?” asked Ibarra.

“I think the way that I look at this is I want to maintain the relationships because when the political fighting (is) over and the disagreements about what the policy should be — at the end of the day, I can’t do my job without DPS’ help,” Danley said. “I can’t in, in a lot of cases, they can’t do their job without our help.”

Until they get access again, Danley said agents will continue their duty to keep watch along the border.

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