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Civil rights groups file complaint over Texas 'Operation Lone Star' border program

Gov. Abbott announced another $38.4 million in funding for the program on Monday.

AUSTIN, Texas — Less than a week after multiple civil rights organizations filed a complaint over "Operation Lone Star," Gov. Greg Abbott announced an additional $38.4 million in funding for law enforcement, jail operations and court administration activities in support of the program.

The governor's Public Safety Office has awarded a total of $74.8 million to cities and counties close to the border since the operation was introduced in March of this year.

"From deterring illegal immigration, to preventing the smuggling of drugs and weapons, to curtailing human trafficking, the deployment of resources and personnel needed to arrest and jail criminals along the border is imperative to our comprehensive border security strategy under Operation Lone Star," said Gov. Abbott. "This additional funding will strengthen our response to the border crisis and ensure our law enforcement and local partners have the resources they need to keep our communities safe in the federal government's absence."

The additional funding, in part, will be distributed as follows:

  • $19.5 million for specialized law enforcement equipment/supplies such as patrol vehicles, interoperable radios, surveillance equipment, bulletproof vests, thermal/night vision technology, as well as search and rescue equipment.
  • $16 million for additional overtime, contract, and salaried peace officers, jailers, prosecutors, indigent defense counsel, and administrative court staff.
  • $1.9 million for construction of regional emergency communication/radio towers, as well as additional capacity in county jail facilities.
  • $800,000 for travel costs associated with non-border counties providing law enforcement assistance to border disaster-declared counties, as well as specialized training for law enforcement and prosecution personnel.

The complaint was sent to the U.S. Attorney General's Office, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice, on Dec. 15. It was authored by representatives from the ACLU of Texas, the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Texas Fair Defense Project.

The 50-page letter calls for an investigation into Abbott's border enforcement operation, claiming the program is discriminatory and continues to fuel hatred toward immigrants.

The groups argue that Texas is bypassing the federal government's immigration policies by creating its own system, weaponizing state law by punishing migrants for coming to the U.S. They also claim that local border officials are using xenophobic language and have openly attempted to work with militia groups or private security to help arrest immigrants.

When reached Monday, the Texas Department of Public Safety said it was not aware of the complaints referenced by the civil rights groups or of the department being served with a Title VI complaint regarding Operation Lone Star.

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