Judge Rules Criminal Trespassing Accusations Brought Against Migrants in Texas As Unlawful

The controversial Operation Lone Star border security program’s strategy, which instructs law enforcement to detain only migrant men on criminal trespassing charges, has been declared unlawful by a Kinney County Judge.

Cases that have already been heard will be dismissed as a result of Judge Dennis Powell’s decision that “the policy of Operation Lone Star, as it currently exists, has a discriminatory impact and is motivated by a discriminatory purpose.”

It was litigated by Operation Lone Star Indigent Defense. Doug Keller, the organization’s legal director, said that making this choice was crucial because tolerating the policy would create a risky precedent.

“If the state could discriminate on the basis of sex in these circumstances, it would then be possible for the criminal justice system to discriminate on the basis of race or religion,” Keller added.

Additionally, he said that detaining migrants on criminal charges had little effect on halting illegal border crossings.

To get here, they have already taken significant risks, according to Keller. Therefore, the notion that the prospect of a misdemeanor prosecution will stop them merely seems absurd; it won’t be what prevents them from showing up.

Court Professionals

Court professionals have further criticized Operation Lone Star for establishing a distinct legal system that punishes migrants differently from other people accused of the same offense.

Keller stated that as part of the scheme, immigrants are tried in courts that are not related to the alleged offense.

According to Keller, under the scheme, migrants are kept in a repurposed jail rather than a pretrial facility and are prosecuted in courts unrelated to the alleged offense. Although defendants are assigned counsel, most communications take place via Zoom.

Last but not least, he claimed that the system robs defendants of their right to a fair trial because the border patrol hands over migrants to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) for criminal trespassing charges and Texas DPS then hands them back to the border patrol after they are released on bond.

Dismissed Cases

A Travis County court dismissed cases earlier in the year as a result of the cooperation between state and federal authorities on immigration issues. The judge declared the program to be unlawful because it violated the federal government’s authority over immigration.

Despite the fact that there is a legitimate problem at the border, according to Keller, Abbott’s present approach is ineffective.