Operation Lone Star: Lawsuit alleging violation of rights of four immigrants detained in Texas

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Operation Lone Star: Lawsuit alleging violation of rights of four immigrants detained in Texas

Four undocumented immigrants who were jailed and later released in Texas for illegally entering the United States in 2021-2022 remained in jail for between 13 and 42 more days in flagrant violation of their civil rights, according to a lawsuit filed in the district court for the western district of Texas.

The plaintiffs allege that the immigrants were illegally detained for a long period of time, violating their civil rights, even after the charges were dismissed by the border counties where they were arrested.

It should be noted that undocumented presence or illegal entry into the United States is the responsibility of the federal government, which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Federal Immigration Law (INA) passed by Congress in 1965.

In addition, the federal government considers undocumented entry into US territory to be a civil, not a criminal, offense.

However, since March 2021, following the enactment of Operation Lone Star (Lone Star) sponsored by Governor Greg Abbott (Republican), illegal crossing from Mexico to the state of Texas has been considered a criminal offense, a position that is being challenged in the courts.

The lawsuit against the “Lone Star”

A coalition consisting of the Texas Fair Defense Project (TFDP), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP filed the lawsuit Monday on behalf of the four detained and detained immigrants who, after their charges were filed was dropped, remained in prison, some up to 42 days.

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“Such excessive incarceration violates the United States Constitution and the clear rules of Texas criminal procedure,” the coalition of plaintiffs said.

The lawsuit names two county sheriffs, county officials, state officials and a private company as collectively causing and individually responsible for the excessive incarceration of plaintiffs.

Since the beginning of Operation Lone Star, hundreds of immigrants who fled their countries and came to the United States to seek asylum have been arrested, imprisoned and/or deported to Mexican territory. Others managed to pass the first stage of credible fear talks with federal authorities and were then released pending resolution of their cases in the Court of Immigration (EOIR),
They have been bused to other states ruled by Democrats, disrupting their due process of immigration.

“Cruel” border policy

The ACLU finds Gov. Abbott’s border policy puts thousands of immigrants at risk. “Texas’ cruel border policies are wasteful, inflammatory and fraught with human and civil rights abuses,” said David Donatti, Texas ACLU Attorney.

“Our clients were locked up for days and weeks after state law ordered their release. In addition, hundreds or thousands of other people have been subjected to similar disregard for their rights,” he added.

According to the civil rights organization, the Texas governor has “manipulated uncontrolled executive power and Texas criminal laws to exercise control over border communities and endanger migrants.”

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Abbott’s immigration policy is similar to the zero-tolerance policy of former President Donald Trump, who is currently running again for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in the 2024 election.

Lack of civic character

When asked whether illegal entry or undocumented residence in the United States constitutes a criminal offense, Jaime Barrón, an immigration attorney who practices in Dallas, Texas, replied that “should it not be the case, there is no criminal charge.” pulls and for the federal government.” Government should remain a civil matter.

He added that depending on the aggravating factors that might be associated with entering the United States illegally, such as a banned substance, a lower fee may be charged at the federal level.

“But specifically, the undocumented crossing is not a crime,” says Barrón. “The immigrant would have to challenge a public defender to face a criminal charge because I doubt they have the resources to pay for it. Therefore, if you are not assigned a public defender, the undocumented presence or illegal crossing is a civil matter and not a criminal matter.

That would explain why the charges were dropped after the four immigrants were arrested. But nothing justifies a deprivation of liberty up to 42 days after the indictment has been dropped, according to the lawsuit filed on Monday.

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“Illegal entry will only be prosecuted if the person brings drugs or has previously been deported without permission and returned to the United States (re-entry), a crime punishable by up to five years in prison,” he said. Barron.

Similarities to Trump’s policies

In 2017, during the Trump administration, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed border prosecutors to file illegal entry charges against parents and arrest them, as part of a controversial policy to deter undocumented immigrants arriving after fleeing their homes countries seeking asylum origin.

The strategy was implemented in secret for more than a year, just weeks after Trump took control of the White House, and allowed the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to arrest parents and force them to take care of their children to evade while they are prosecuted.

After the judicial problems were resolved, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of parents tried to get their little ones back, but due to the lack of protocols for their reunion, hundreds of parents were deported alone to their countries of origin.

Today, more than two and a half years after Biden’s arrival in the White House, more than 1,000 families remain separated, hundreds of them in their countries of origin, and their little ones lost in the United States’ adoption system.

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