Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Thursday “authorizing and empowering” the National Guard Texas Department of Public Safety to apprehend migrants and return them to the border.
The nonprofit immigrant rights group RAICES called the move an unlawful political stunt that stokes anti-immigrant fear and hate for political points.
“Abbott’s Executive Order is unlawful, and the Department of Justice needs to intervene by immediately and aggressively investigating Abbott’s Operation Lonestar program, its heinous civil rights violations, and the Governor’s overreach of power,” RAICES said in a statement.
The group said the anti-immigrant policies have already led to tragedy, like the 53 migrants who recently died in an abandoned trailer in San Antonio.
“Our country has the capacity and compassion to restore our asylum system for all people seeking safety, to strengthen and expand legal pathways for those fleeing persecution, torture, or war to seek protection, and to fulfill our promise to keep people safe and families together,” RAICES wrote.
Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner also called Abbott’s order a political stunt that distracts from issues with the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, where staffing shortages have kept children locked up in rooms for up to 22 hours a day.
“But instead of managing the crisis at TJJD, instead of trying to address the crisis in the foster care system and instead of responding to bipartisan demands to do something about the gun violence crisis, Abbott retreats to his political safe space — issuing meaningless campaign press releases,” Turner said.
On Wednesday, the Texas Tribune and ProPublica revealed that the DOJ was already probing into civil rights violations under Operation Lone Star.
Congressional Democrats have also urged federal officials to investigate how the funds for Operation Lone Star were produced and whether the governor siphoned funds originally slated for COVID-19.
Original photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at email@example.com