Judge Rules Against Texas Immigration Move, In Blow To Abbott

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A Texas judge has ruled that a particular arrest tied to a border security initiative by Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott was unconstitutional, possibly setting up future challenges along the same lines to the Abbott program. That Texas judge, Jan Soifer, concluded that the arrest of Ecuadorian migrant Jesús Guzmán Curipoma on state charges of trespassing went against the provisions in the U.S. Constitution that leave enforcement regarding immigration-related issues to federal authorities. Soifer also tossed out the case against Guzmán Curipoma. Republicans including ex-President Trump himself have argued that the Biden administration’s immigration approach involves so-called “open” borders, which is just false in every meaningful sense.

Referring to the nickname for the disputed Texas program, attorney Angelica Cogliano, who was representing Guzmán Curipoma, recently argued that “prosecutions of people suspected to be migrants of nonviolent criminal trespass charges under Operation Lone Star [are] unconstitutional under the supremacy clause” of the Constitution, which is what gives the federal government that final say. As explained by The Texas Tribune, the judge’s conclusion “opened the door to constitutional challenges from more of the thousands of migrants who have been imprisoned for allegedly trespassing since July, when the governor set his sights on mass trespassing arrests as a way to cut down on border crossings.”

Predictably, state authorities have already lashed out against Soifer’s findings, insisting on an appeal — with that appeal meant to defend the state’s ghoulish push to lock up migrants, sometimes for months on end, over charges that have maximum sentences of just a year in prison if found guilty. Guzmán Curipoma’s legal team brought his challenge outside of the county where his case originated, insisting that any state district judge should be free to hear such a matter. Private attorney David Schulman, representing the prosecutor in Kinney County whose jurisdiction would apparently include Guzmán Curipoma’s original trespassing case, tried to get the out-of-county proceedings halted, but he wasn’t successful.

Operation Lone Star, as its known, has been the target of a slew of challenges, including a complaint filed with the U.S. Justice Department that requested an investigation into apparent violations of provisions of the Civil Rights Act. In connection to that complaint, Kate Huddleston — a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas — observed that Abbott has “created an unlawful and separate state immigration system in Texas under the guise of state criminal law,” adding that the governor “has saturated border communities with state troopers and National Guard in an outrageous effort to ensnare Black and Brown migrants in trespass arrests.” These circumstances, she added, are “contributing to a dangerous escalation in white supremacist rhetoric and vigilanteism in Texas,” among other issues. Read more at this link.