Texas National Guard
Members of the Texas National Guard stand guard on the banks of the Rio Bravo river, as seen from Ciudad Juarez Reuters

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has spent billions to "racially profile and arrest people who pose no threat to public safety" and force "them into a separate and unequal legal system" run by the state, according to a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The document, titled "Operation Lone Star. Misinformation and Discrimination in Texas Border Enforcement," delves into the controversial program and goes through its figures over the three years since it was implemented.

The program was launched in March 2021 by Gov. Abbott to "detect and repel illegal crossings, arrest human smugglers and cartel gang members, and stop the flow of deadly drugs like fentanyl into our nation."

However, "OLS claims to stop migrants from allegedly bringing drugs and crime into Texas — even though the state's own data proves that's not the case," ACLU disputes in a press release.

Greg Abbott
Texas Governor Greg Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in March 2021. Reuters

ACLU says Texas has spent more than $11.2 billion on the program, which mainly enforces "anti immigrant" policies.

"Anti-immigrant laws like Senate Bill 4 are part of a much larger, unconstitutional effort by Texas politicians to enforce discriminatory immigration policies through the state's controversial program known as Operation Lone Star (OLS)," ACLU says, in reference to a state bill allowing state and local law enforcement to arrest and deport unlawful migrants found in Texas. The law's implementation has been put on hold by a Federal Court of Appeals.

"The governor contends OLS targets drug smuggling and human trafficking. However, the scope of arrests, in terms of charges brought, arrest locations, and arrest rates by race, demonstrates that enforcement under Operation Lone Star has strayed beyond its stated purpose while doing little to measure the program's 'successes,'" the report claims.

Texas Operation Lone Star: 5 Key Findings

ACLU's report highlights five key findings about the implementation of Texas' Operation Lone Star (OLS) over its three years of enforcement.

  1. "OLS demonstrates racial profiling and unconstitutional policing." Arrest rates for trespassing were significantly higher for Latinos, according to the document. More than 96% of arrests for alleged trespassing were Latinos, and among trespassing arrests, Latinos received 98.1% of charges that were enhanced for occurring in a "Disaster Area," the report shows.
  2. "OLS has primarily arrested people accused of low-level offenses like trespassing rather than drug-related offenses, human smuggling, or weapon charges." Nearly 70% of court appearances were for misdemeanor charges."
  3. "OLS has overwhelmingly prosecuted U.S. nationals rather than migrants for drug-related offenses, human smuggling, and weapon charges." U.S. nationals comprised approximately 75% of all court proceedings for these offenses, the report says.
  4. "OLS has expanded far beyond the border." 13,600 arrests occurred in non-border counties, many of them hundreds of miles from the nearest port of entry, as per the document.
  5. "OLS data is inconsistent across state agencies." "While the the Department of Public Safety reported 38,030 arrests, only 13,306 people appeared before a magistrate according to the Office of Court Administration," ACLU showed.

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