Lawsuit filed against Gov. Abbott, state officials allege Operation Lone Star violated civil liberties

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Several people are suing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other heads of state, saying the Operation Lone Star program violates their civil liberties.

The civil rights lawsuit, filed Wednesday on behalf of more than a dozen people, alleges that the Operation Lone Star program, the state of Texas and several law enforcement officials violated their constitutional rights.

The lawsuit targets Governor Abbott, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Colonel Steven McCraw, Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Bryan Collier and Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe.

The plaintiffs are listed as a mix of people from different states and countries, and several are currently being detained in Edinburgh, Texas, as part of the Operation Lone Star program.

KXAN has reached out to the governor’s office for comment on the lawsuit. We’ll update this story when we get feedback.

Operation Lone Star (OLS) was launched in March 2021 by the Texas Department of Safety and the Military Department to combat illegal immigration and crime along the border.

According to the Texas Tribune, Abbott dispatched more than 10,000 National Guard members last year to patrol the border, erect barriers and detain migrants for committing charges and trespassing on private property in the United States.

Plaintiffs are seeking action on their arrest and “over-arrest.” The group is seeking declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, class certification and monetary damages.

The lawsuit states that arrests of migrants in the OLS program “regularly have no probable cause” and that most of those arrested under the program are “Hispanic and Black men.”

The program “violates the constitutional rights of data subjects and seeks to penetrate federally-held immigration enforcement territory,” the lawsuit says.

In May 2021, Abbott issued a disaster declaration that covered several counties along or near the border and gave him authority to deploy the Texas National Guard at the border. While the federal government has sole authority to enforce immigration laws, the Texas Tribune reported that Abbott increased trespassing penalties as part of the disaster declaration and ordered state troops to arrest migrants entering the United States on private property.

On March 4, 2022, a year after the program began, the governor’s office reported that more than 200,000 migrants had been arrested and more than 11,000 charged with criminal offenses.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages in excess of $5 million. Lawsuit filed against Gov. Abbott, state officials allege Operation Lone Star violated civil liberties

Joel McCord

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