AUSTIN, Texas — It was just one case but a Travis County judge’s ruling on Texas’ Operation Lone Star border enforcement program could open the floodgates to further challenges.
In dismissing trespassing charges against a migrant from Ecuador on Thursday, state district Judge Jan Sofier ruled his arrest as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s program violates the U.S. Constitution.
Thousands of migrants have been arrested as part of the program. Operation Lone Star involved the deployment of DPS troopers and members of the Texas National Guard to the Texas-Mexico border.
“After careful consideration, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office agreed that Mr. Guzman Curipoma’s prosecution for criminal trespass as part of Operation Lone Star violates the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution and represents an impermissible attempt to intrude on immigration policy,” Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza said in a statement that was shared on Twitter by his office. “In addition, DA’s office concluded that based on the evidence, there were multiple ways in which the OLS program has failed to satisfy basic, fundamental, and procedural state and federal constitutional safeguards.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday said he’ll challenge the ruling, tweeting, “Lib Austin judge lets a Soros Travis County DA represent State of TX, then declares Op Lone Star unconstitutional. Ridiculous. Biden has FAILED to secure the border. Texas stepped in. We have the right to defend our border if the feds refuse. I’ll fight this nonsense on appeal.”
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.”
Democratic lawmakers in October 2021 called 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.”
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.”
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.