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Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro signs letter urging a DOJ probe into 'Operation Lone Star'

Congressman Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, speaks at a Washington rally, as RAICES Communications Director Jennifer K. Falcon looks on.
Keith Lane
Congressman Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, speaks at a Washington rally, as RAICES Communications Director Jennifer K. Falcon looks on.

San Antonio Congressman Joaquin Castro and 25 other members of Congress have asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into “Operation Lone Star,” a state border policy that critics say violates the U.S. Constitution.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Department of Homeland Security head Alejandro Mayorkas on Friday, the representatives accused Gov. Greg Abbott of violating the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which argues federal law takes precedence over state law in certain instances, including immigration enforcement.

The letter also asked for an investigation into the governor’s treatment of migrants under the policy.

“These operations have continued to militarize Texas' border communities and interfered with the federal immigration system, likely violating the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution,” the letter says. “Even more egregiously, these programs have directly led to a violation of state laws and constitutional due process rights.”

Under Abbott’s border policy, the state has enlisted the National Guard and state troopers to arrest thousands of migrants crossing into the country without proper documentation.

Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze said in an email that the governor's policy is a response to a rise in unauthorized border crossings from Mexico and blamed the Biden administration's immigration policies.

"Until President Biden and his Administration do their job to enforce the laws of our nation and protect Americans, the State of Texas will continue stepping up to secure our border and protect our communities,” Eze said.

Critics, meanwhile, have called the policy inhumane and illegal.

In June, it was revealed that Abbott had ordered a state prison in south Texas to make room for immigrants detained under Operation Lone Star.

In Friday’s letter, the members of Congress argued that the policy was not only illegal but impractical, straining the criminal justice system and leaving people locked up for weeks without charges or legal representation.

“Governor Abbott's use of military and police presence on the border and his arrests of migrants have overwhelmed local justice systems, leaving legal and logistical problems and prolonged delays,” the letter says. “Texas counties do not have enough employees nor the technology to manage hundreds of cases.”

Neither the DOJ nor DHS immediately responded to requests for comment.

Read the entire letter.

Copyright 2021 Houston Public Media News 88.7. To see more, visit Houston Public Media News 88.7.

Updated: October 29, 2021 at 5:40 PM CDT
This post has been updated with a response from the governor's office.
Paul DeBenedetto
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