Despite condemnation from human right organizations, a civil rights complaint, and a string of tragic military deaths, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star border scheme has continued unabated since early last year. However, a state district judge’s decision this past Thursday could finally begin to change that.
The Texas Tribune reports Judge Jan Soifer agreed to throw out state trespassing charges filed against an asylum-seeker swept up under the border scheme, citing violation of the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause. While the ruling applies only to this man, legal advocates say thousands of other people arrested under Abbott’s policy could launch similar legal action.
“Everybody who has a pending misdemeanor trespassing arrest under OLS will have the exact same challenge,” Texas RioGrande Legal Aid attorney Kristin Etter tells The Texas Tribune. The report said that more than 2,000 asylum-seekers and migrants have been swept up under the political policy since its launch in March 2021. “This sets a clear precedent in all of those cases both pending and future.”
“Though far from the first court challenge to Abbott’s arrest initiative—which has been vexed with wrongful arrests, prosecutorial errors, court delays and ethics complaints—Soifer’s ruling is the first to rule against the constitutionality of a migrant’s trespassing arrest, according to Etter,” the report said. It notes that the very corrupt attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton, is vowing to fight the decision. “[I]t’s not yet clear how he will do so since his office was not a party in the lawsuit.”
The Val Verde County attorney has previously thrown out charges against asylum-seekers who had said that officers zip-tied their hands, forced them to climb 10-foot-fencing onto private property, then arrested them for trespassing. That’s when they even bother to charge asylum-seekers with anything, because the courts have also previously ordered the release of hundreds of men who were jailed for lengthy periods of time without any charges at all.
The Counter’s Tina Vasquez has also previously reported how local officials and law enforcement have been aiding Abbott’s shenanigans by actively encouraging landowners to file reports against asylum-seekers and migrants. The civil rights complaint filed last month noted how Kinney County in particular has been “undertaking additional efforts to target migrants,” including “repeatedly” seeking to “partner with vigilante actors.” The leader of one of these extremist organizations, Women Fighting for America (WFFA), is a Jan. 6 insurrectionist.
Abbott has spent months brushing off criticisms of his corrupt and discriminatory policy. In fact, he’s fucking proud of making life hell for asylum-seekers. But Abbott has been facing bipartisan condemnation in recent weeks, following the deaths of a number of Texas National Guard tied to his political scheme. Abbott’s dignified response to these tragedies? To complain about President Joe Biden. El Paso Rep. Veronica Escobar has since led a congressional delegation calling on the Texas Military Department to open a probe into Abbott’s scheme.