Grassroots immigrant advocacy groups and civil rights organizations gathered in multiple Texas border cities over the weekend to protest Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s ongoing border scheme that has cost precious human lives and wasted billions in state taxpayer funds. Organizations and advocates gathered in El Paso, Presidio, Pharr, and Brownsville, all border regions that have been significantly impacted by the racist Operation Lone Star policy. Under the scheme, local communities have been racially profiled as Black and brown migrants have been rounded up on trespassing charges, and oftentimes jailed with no formal charges at all.
“I think a lot of people here in the valley and a lot of people affected by Operation Lone Star would agree,” Emma Guevara told CBS 4 News Rio Grande Valley. “We’re being policed for no reason.”
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“Gov. Abbott has been continuously attacking immigrant communities through abusive and discriminatory policies that target and criminalize vulnerable immigrants coming to the U.S. seeking safety and a better future,” organizations led by Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “These policies criminalize and incarcerate immigrants, pushing them to undertake dangerous routes to access the country, which, in many cases, lead to death, as is the case of the recent tragedy in San Antonio, Texas, where 53 migrants died in a tractor-trailer.”
But dozens of others have also been killed as a direct result of Operation Lone Star, civil rights organizations said in a recent complaint filed with the Justice Department. They said racial profiling of drivers by state law enforcement officers has resulted in unnecessary high-speed chases that have killed at least 30, including five bystanders who had nothing to do with the stops.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas and Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) were among the coalition of organizations that filed a Title VI discrimination complaint last year, pointing to ample evidence of racial profiling and biased policing. “For years, OLS has turned South Texas into a police state & border communities are tired of being harassed & living in what feels like a war-zone,” TCRP tweeted from the past weekend’s rallies.
This past July, The Texas Tribune reported that a Justice Department investigation into the border scheme has been ongoing since at least May. That report said the federal investigators were 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. The complaint also noted how one county sheriff eagerly partnered with a Jan. 6 insurrectionist for a ride-along. The insurrectionist, Women Fighting for America leader Christie Hutcherson, boasted that she was working “hand in hand” with Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe to “help facilitate closing down our borders.”
Operation Lone Star is also at the center of a probe by the Treasury Department inspector general due to Abbott and other Republican officials raiding federal pandemic funding as part of their effort to keep the illegal Operation Lone Star stunt operational. Abbott has also raided millions from the Texas Juvenile Justice Department in order to pay for Operation Lone Star, a move that is now having devastating consequences.
”Almost 600 Texas youths are trapped in a juvenile prison system on the brink of collapse,” reported The Texas Tribune on Aug. 2. “The agency is so understaffed that teens have reported spending up to 23 hours locked in their cells, using water bottles to go to the bathroom. A staggering number have hurt themselves or been placed on suicide watch.” The report said that an increasing number of children are in such crisis that they “are hurting themselves—sometimes severely—out of distress or as a way to get attention in their isolation. Nearly half of those locked in the state’s juvenile prisons this year have been on suicide watch.”
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