On March 6, 2021, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott announced the creation of ‘Operation Lone Star,’ his self-proclaimed “catch and jail” border security initiative. This program deploys Texas Department of Public Safety and National Guard troops to the border region to arrest and jail migrants in unprecedented numbers, on misdemeanor charges (mostly trespassing), and jails them for weeks or months before handing them over to immigration authorities. As expensive as it is problematic, the Texas Military Department has estimated that it will cost close to $2 billion this fiscal year. Advocates report that this program has been a breeding ground for racial profiling, biased policing, and has overwhelmed local judicial systems, leading to serious violations of due process. Under this program, thousands of migrants are languishing in jail, awaiting court dates for far longer than a sentence for these petty offenses would ever carry. A coalition, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project, filed a federal discrimination lawsuit which is currently pending against the state, alleging that migrants of color have been illegally targeted under this state action.
Hear from attorneys defending immigrants in state criminal proceedings and others who are working to challenge this controversial initiative to punish and deter migrants at the southern border.