The Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security initiative following reports of enforcement and personnel issues associated with the effort, according to ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, citing state records.
Abbott launched “Operation Lone Star” in March 2021 in an attempt to step in where he argued the Biden administration had failed to secure the southern border. The investigation involves alleged civil rights violations and discrimination in the effort, according to ProPublica.
The report follows a ProPublica investigation that concluded that some of the arrests counted weren’t connected to the border and drugs seized across the state and an investigation by The Texas Tribune that found multiple personnel issues among soldiers deployed by the state with regards to pay and the conditions of their deployments.
“We weren’t paid for the first month we were there. I was lending people money that was in my savings account. I would buy some of the guys paid or whatever just to get by. And then we finally start getting paid, but they still owe us about 4,000,” a soldier deployed with the operation, who wished to remain anonymous because they weren’t authorized to speak, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The soldier added that the effort has been effective in securing the border.
However, the reported investigation is merely evidence that Biden isn’t focused on border security, Abbott’s Press Secretary Renae Eze told TheDCNF.
“Instead of addressing the border disaster created by President Biden’s open border policies, the Biden Administration is attacking the only state taking unprecedented actions to do the federal government’s job and secure our southern border. Texas continues stepping up to secure our border, deploying thousands of Texas National Guard soldiers and DPS troopers and allocating over $4 billion of Texas taxpayer money for border security, including building our own border wall and erecting strategic barriers,” Eze told TheDCNF.
“It’s time for President Biden to fulfill his oath of office and secure our southern border,” Eze added.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Texas National Guard are part of the effort which has resulted in over 274,000 migrant apprehensions, over 16,900 criminal arrests and over 22,000 turnbacks, Eze added.
However, the numbers and other aspects of the effort have been the center of a controversy involving alleged pay issues, treatment of personnel and enforcement numbers, that comes ahead of the reports of DOJ’s investigation, according to ProPublica.
“If you are not already aware, the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ is investigating Operation Lone Star,” Department of Public Safety (DPS) assistant general counsel Kaylyn Betts wrote in an email sent on May 23, according to documents obtained by ProPublica.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice referenced a “formal investigation” by the DOJ into Operation Lone Star, according to ProPublica. The department’s deputy general counsel said in the letter that the DOJ is investigating whether Texas authorities are subjecting those arrested to “differential and unlawful conditions of confinement based on their perceived or actual race or national origin.”
The DOJ, Abbott’s office, the Texas Attorney General’s office, DPS and the Texas Military Department didn’t respond to TheDCNF’s requests for comment.
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