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TCRP Urges the Department of Justice to Investigate Texas' de facto Immigration Scheme, Operation Lone Star


April 30, 2024


The supplemental complaint outlines continued abuses within the program and cites an increase in violent tactics from Texas law enforcement

AUSTIN, TEXAS - Today, the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) submitted a fourth supplemental complaint urging the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to formally investigate Texas’ Operation Lone Star (OLS), a de facto immigration enforcement scheme run exclusively by Texas. View the supplemental complaint here, and previous filings here. The supplemental complaint comes after Governor Abbott’s continued efforts to enforce state-run immigration practices at the border. 

Initiated in March 2021, OLS is the state program under which Texas law enforcement officers target migrants for arrest, jailing, and criminal prosecution for the state criminal offense of “trespassing.” The supplemental complaint follows an original complaint about the OLS trespass arrest program in December 2021, urging an investigation into the program, which targets Black and Brown migrants for arrest,  discriminating on the basis of race and national origin. Since OLS’s implementation, the program has cost Texas taxpayers an estimated $11 billion. Over the past three years, the program has been expanded, leading to new and increasingly more dangerous militarization of Texas border communities. OLS has been and continues to be, riddled with controversies and civil rights violations.

“Operation Lone Star has created a war zone in border communities,” said Danny Woodward (he/him), Legal Fellow for the Beyond Borders Program, Texas Civil Rights Project. “The program has subjected people to racial profiling, blocked federal agents from providing help in emergency situations, and turned neighborhood streets into race tracks for high-speed chases. Operation Lone Star has gone unchecked for far too long, it is time for the DOJ to act. We call on the DOJ to investigate this inhumane scheme and put an end to the harm it has caused.”

The latest complaint details a series of abuses caused by Governor Abbott’s expanding border militarization under OLS. In July of 2023, a Texas State trooper detailed several disturbing situations in an email shared with the media. According to his report, on July 30, 2023, the trooper encountered a group of people, including a four-year-old girl, trying to cross the concertina wire in 100-degree heat. The soldiers were ordered to push the group back into the river, and they did so. Shortly afterward, the four-year-old passed out from heat exhaustion. This is only one of the many abuses highlighted in the supplemental complaint. Read the full email and report here

The complaint details the horrendous conditions and treatment people faced by people who are jailed under OLS face. People imprisoned under OLS report that guards forced them to stand in the sun for hours on end and served them food with cockroaches and worms. They also report that guards taunt them with racist insults. Such treatment is cruel and dehumanizing.  Furthermore, under OLS, Texas has also kept people imprisoned long past their completed sentence time, and, in some cases, after the charges have been dropped.

The complaint also outlines the increase in high-speed chases in Texas border communities as a result of OLS. Between March 2021 and July 2023, pursuits in OLS counties killed at least seventy-four people and injured 189. Sixty-eight percent of all vehicle pursuits in Texas now occur in OLS counties, which represent just thirteen percent of the state’s population. Read Human Rights Watch’s report on the deadly consequences of OLS high-speed chases here.  


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