The Department of Justice has been investigating right-wing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star scheme, The Texas Tribune reports. Dozens of Texas House members had been among lawmakers and advocates who have called on the department to open a federal probe into the racist scheme, citing likely violations of federal and state laws and the targeting of Black and Latino asylum-seekers.
Despite continued anti-immigrant abuses by Abbott and his allies, it had been unclear whether or not the department would intervene. But The Texas Tribune reports that records reveal that a federal investigation has been ongoing since at least May.
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Texas Department of Public Safety “officials said that the DOJ was seeking to review whether Operation Lone Star violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin by institutions receiving federal funding,” The Texas Tribune reported. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice “also cited a ‘formal investigation’ of Operation Lone Star by the DOJ,” the report continued.
The Texas Tribune said that corrupt Attorney General Ken Paxton, who loves to insert himself into policy that has nothing to do with him, had no comment. Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesperson Amanda Hernandez did claim in the report that the the agency “has and continues to follow all state and federal laws as the state of Texas responds to the ongoing crises at the border.” Well, that’s just a flat-out lie. Reporting since last year has revealed that Texas has illegally detained migrants without any charges at all, in violation of state law. This has not been a mistake, with these illegal detentions continuing into this year.
It’s also encouraging to see that the Justice Department is reportedly reviewing whether Abbott’s scheme has violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a claim made in a complaint by a coalition of civil rights organizations late last year.
“Arrest records show profiling based on race and national origin, including with numerous descriptions of observing or receiving reports of ‘undocumented migrants,’” the organizations said in the complaint. “Virtually all if not all of those arrested to date are Latinx and Black men and are migrants.” Mirroring concerns from human rights advocates, the groups pointed to “evidence of racial profiling and biased policing” and racist rhetoric from right-wing elected officials that further endangers a state that’s already been a target for deadly white supremacist violence.
Kinney County, which has gone all-in with Abbott, has “repeatedly” sought to “partner with vigilante actors,” groups said. Kinney County also recently boasted of “sending undocumented individuals back to Mexico,” which is most certainly not at all the job of a sheriff. Following blowback from policy experts who said that “deputies could be subject to enormous legal liability for doing that,” the sheriff claimed that deputies had merely “transported four back to the port of entry in Mexico so they could return home. There was no formal deportation,” KSAT reported. Sure.
“That’s sounds to me like he drove them to the port of entry and dropped them off and said, ‘that’s where you got to go,’ and ‘that’ being Mexico,” immigration attorney Lance Curtright said in the report. “That sounds to me like he forcefully made them leave the country.”
Rep. Veronica Escobar, among lawmakers who had successfully urged the Treasury Department watchdog to investigate whether Abbott had misused federal funds as part of his scheme, welcomed The Texas Tribune’s report.
“Governor Greg Abbott’s ‘Operation Lone Star’ has been an unmitigated disaster,” Escobar said in a statement. “Billions of dollars have been wasted and the readiness of our troops has been eroded. Governor Abbott has used our servicemembers as a political tool—they and the people of Texas deserve better. I have personally heard from servicemembers assigned to Operation Lone Star about the dreadful conditions they face.”
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