Democratic members of Congress including Rep. Joaquin Castro (Texas) have requested an investigation by federal authorities at the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security into a border security program kickstarted by Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott. The Congresspersons’ request characterizes what Abbott has been doing as an “effort to establish a separate state immigration policy” — which seems poised to be a violation of the Constitution, which “gives federal laws and the Constitution priority over conflicting state laws,” NBC explains. Abbott’s endeavor has also included apparent violations of the due process rights of detainees.
The sweeping effort that Abbott got underway — which has been proceeding under the moniker of Operation Lone Star — has included the cooperation of a range of personnel, from the Texas National Guard to law enforcement from outside Texas. Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in connection with Operation Lone Star — and hundreds were “detained for weeks without charges and unable to contact lawyers,” NBC explains, with a judge recently ordering those detainees to be released. Such a situation constitutes an atrocious violation of the basic rights held by these people. It’s as though Abbott is attempting to create concentration camps. What other conclusion can be drawn from holding hundreds of people in custody for weeks on end without charges or access to lawyers?
There have also been problems inflicted upon the state’s judicial system from Abbott’s zealous attacks on immigrants. As explained by NBC, “Many of the arrests have occurred in counties without large enough staff to process the arrests, overwhelming legal offices and leading to charges failing to be filed on time and other problems.” Alongside other points, the members of Congress who got in touch with federal authorities over this situation also asked the Department of Homeland Security to “provide migrants who enter into its custody after release from state custody with timely and regular telephone access so that they can inform their loved ones and attorneys of their location.” Read more here.