News report says ICE denied van full of separated mothers crashed
© Getty Images

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) initially denied that a cargo van carrying eight Central American mothers to be reunited with their children crashed last month, according to The Texas Observer.

The magazine, published by the Texas Democracy Foundation, reported that the mothers were in the van, which hit a pickup truck in San Marcos, Texas, on July 18, and that ICE did not confirm an incident occurred until after the Observer obtained an accident report.

The Observer, citing the police report and interviews with four passengers, reported that the crash occurred after the van's driver failed to come to a full stop. 


“The crash was really strong, like maybe we were going to flip,” Dilcia, a Honduran mom who asked the Observer not to publish her full name, said. Another mother said the group was "trembling with shock."

The Observer reported ICE acknowledged the incident, but only after repeated denials.

The agency described the incident as a "fender bender," and a spokesperson added that the crash resulted in "minor damage."

A responding police officer, however, wrote in the report that the van was towed after suffering “disabling damage.” No one was transported to a hospital.

The Observer notes that ICE would not answer questions on why it initially denied the incident. 

The women involved in the crash told the Observer that another cargo van with a new driver arrived to take them to their destination. They said that they reported the incident to an official at a facility in Pearsall, Texas, where they were to be reunited with their children. 

ICE on Wednesday maintained that the incident was a fender bender and not a car crash.

"On July 18, 2018, eight female detainees were transferred by van from the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas, to the South Texas Detention Complex (STDC) in Pearsall, Texas," the agency said in a statement to The Hill.

"During the transfer, the ICE transportation contractor stopped at a gas station at about 4 p.m. in San Marcos, Texas. While exiting the parking lot the van was involved in a fender bender with a pick-up truck that was turning into the parking lot, which resulted in minor damage to both vehicles. Both vehicles remained operable. EMS evaluated the detainees on site and were cleared to travel."

The Observer previously reported that the agency misrepresented the number of arrests it made during an immigration raid in Austin in February 2017. 

--This report was updated at 2:00 p.m.