Home National news Texas Democrats urge DOJ intervention as ‘Operation Lonestar’ faces increased scrutiny

Texas Democrats urge DOJ intervention as ‘Operation Lonestar’ faces increased scrutiny

Initially conceived by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, ‘Operation Lonestar’ has stirred significant controversy, with reported incidents resulting in at least 74 deaths and numerous instances of violence and mistreatment of migrants over the past year.

Congress members Jasmine Crockett and Greg Casar, alongside fellow Texas Democratic Reps. Colin Allred, Joaquin Castro, Lloyd Doggett, Veronica Escobar, Lizzie Fletcher, Sylvia Garcia, Vincente Gonzalez, Al Green, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Marc Veasey, have penned a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice (DOJ) demanding heightened federal oversight of Texas’ controversial ‘Operation Lonestar’ (OLS) program.

Initially conceived by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, ‘Operation Lonestar’ has stirred significant controversy, with reported incidents resulting in at least 74 deaths and numerous instances of violence and mistreatment of migrants over the past year. Investigations have uncovered the use of razor wire and buoys in the Rio Grande, deadly vehicle pursuits, and prolonged detention without due process. Concerns are escalating with Abbott set to sign Texas S.B. 4 into law this week, potentially granting law enforcement more extraordinary powers to detain individuals suspected of being foreign nationals and raising fears of increased violence against migrants and the targeting of Latino Texans.

Expressing their apprehensions in the letter, the Democratic representatives highlighted the lack of remedial and preventive actions at the federal level despite ongoing abuses spanning nearly two years. The letter emphasized the necessity for the DOJ to assert field preemption and address the recurring violations under ‘Operation Lonestar,’ urging clarity on the administration’s stance regarding the legal interference of federal immigration law by Texas officials and law enforcement.

The lawmakers stressed their acknowledgment of the challenges at the southern border and the need for bipartisan solutions to address the broken immigration system. However, they underscored the imperative to ensure that actions taken at the border are legal and that the rights of all individuals, regardless of nationality, are protected.

“While Gov. Abbott ramps up his escalated actions under OLS, we continue to see civil rights violations and illegal actions, whether it is the continuing ‘trespassing’ arrests of immigrants, razor-wire installations, or physical interposition by DPS and Texas Guard personnel preventing migrants from accessing safety and medical care, as illustrated from a video last month showing a Texas National Guard soldier accosting a migrant stuck in barbed wire,” the representatives wrote.

The letter concluded with a call for the DOJ to brief Congress on the recent findings of the Operation Lonestar investigation and a request to deploy federal civil rights observers to the affected areas.

Crockett further called for a DOJ briefing to update Congress on the ongoing investigation into ‘Operation Lonestar’ and requested a commitment from the DOJ to deploy federal civil rights observers to the impacted regions. “It is critical that DOJ assert its rightful field preemption and send a strong message regarding OLS abuses,” she said.

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