TEXAS — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott along with the Department of Public Safety in March of this year launched Operation Lone Star, which, according to the governor, is designed to “combat the smuggling of people and drugs into Texas.”
Abbott has said that the federal government’s refusal to secure the U.S.-Mexico border prompted the program, which “integrates DPS with the Texas National Guard and deploys air, ground, marine, and tactical border security assets to high threat areas to deny Mexican Cartels and other smugglers the ability to move drugs and people into Texas.”
Now, some Democratic lawmakers are calling on the Department of Justice as well as the Department of Homeland Security to investigate what they call Abbott’s attempt to “establish a separate state immigration policy.”
In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland Friday, Democratic reps. Joaquin Castro, Veronica Escobar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and numerous others say the policy is “wreaking havoc on Texas’ judicial system.”
“’Operation Lone Star’ includes a roughly billion-dollar Texas law enforcement program designed by Governor Abbott to target suspected migrants for arrest, jailing, and criminal prosecution by state and local law enforcement for the Texas state misdemeanor offense of criminal trespass,” the letter states. “These operations have continued to militarize Texas’ border communities and interfered with the federal immigration system, likely violating the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. Even more egregiously, these programs have directly led to a violation of state laws and constitutional due process rights.”
The Democratic lawmaker say the program has overwhelmed local justice systems including in Kinney County, which has had to “manage over 80 percent of the cases, and many of the migrants there had been without attorneys for weeks.”
The letter goes on to say that Texas has passed several state statute deadlines to file charges and jails must release those defendants who have not been charged, which has not occurred in several cases.
Democrats additionally accused Abbott’s program of leading to the separation of families at the border as well as violations of state and federal law.
Gov. Abbott and DPS have touted the program a great deal lately. DPS on Oct. 27 tweeted, “Thank you for your leaderships Gov. @GregAbbott_TX! Your words of gratitude are appreciated but your actions in providing us the resources we need to #securetheborder speaks volumes. We value the support of Texans and the entire #txledge during #OperationLoneStar.”