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Democrats urge Biden Administration to stop Texas from arresting illegal immigrants for trespassing

The group accused Abbott of using "state criminal law to target Black and Latino migrants for punishment."

Published: February 2, 2022 6:06pm

Updated: February 2, 2022 6:11pm

Fifty Texas Democrat State Representatives sent a letter urging the Biden administration to end Gov. Greg Abbott's (R-Texas) "Operation Lone Star," which seeks to arrest illegal immigrants for trespassing and breaking other laws.

The Democrats said the program likely violates the U.S. Constitution and federal and state laws. The group also accused Abbott of using "state criminal law to target Black and Latino migrants for punishment."

Since March 2021, the Texas Department of Public Safety and National Guard have been working under Operation Lone Star to combat the smuggling of people, weapons and drugs into Texas. By December, Texas authorities had apprehended more than 165,000 illegal migrants, according to The Washinton Examiner

More than 2,600 migrants have been arrested on misdemeanor trespass charges, the Democrats wrote in their Jan. 26 letter. The group linked the "militarization" at the southern border to a "rise in anti-immigrant hate," including the 2019 El Paso Walmart shooting. 

The arrests add stress to the justice system and also "likely" violate the U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause and migrants' due process rights, the State House Democrats said, adding Abbott's goal is "to punish migrants for their travel to the United States." 

Abbott has pushed back against the Democrats' attacks over Abbott for Operation Lone Star.

"Texas Democrats are shilling for their liberal candidate for governor, Beto O’Rourke, who supports President Biden’s reckless open border policies that have created a crisis along our southern border, including killing thousands through fentanyl overdoses and endangering the lives of women and children through human trafficking," Abbott campaign spokeswoman Renae Eze told the Austin American-Statesman.

Illegal immigrant encounters at the southern border have consistently hit record highs under President Joe Biden.

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