Civil rights groups have requested a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security initiative, Operation Lone Star, over accusations of “Latinx” discrimination, according to a complaint sent Thursday.
Attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project alleged that Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers pulled over more “Latinx” drivers and passengers during vehicle stops, compared to the number of white drivers, according to the complaint. Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in March 2021 to combat human and drug smuggling in Texas amid a surge in crossings under the Biden administration.
The Texas Republican’s effort has led to over 279,100 migrant apprehensions and over 17,100 criminal arrests, according to the governor’s office. There have been over three million migrant encounters since Biden first took office on Jan. 20, 2021, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)—the state police agency—has blanketed communities throughout South Texas with officers. This is one facet of Operation Lone Star (OLS), Governor Greg Abbott’s long-running anti-immigrant initiative. As part of this initiative in South Texas, DPS officers are regularly conducting pretextual traffic stops,” the attorneys wrote.
“There is significant evidence that DPS is engaged in racial profiling—discriminating against Latinx drivers and passengers—in these stops. And, troublingly, the stops turn into deadly vehicle pursuits with alarming frequency: we have linked DPS vehicle pursuits in South Texas to 30 deaths since the start of OLS, a startlingly high number,” they added.
The complaint cited three DPS affidavits from traffic stops where authorities allegedly engaged in an “unlawful reliance on race.” It added that many travelers who aren’t in the U.S. illegally “often carry backpacks.”
“In one affidavit, a DPS officer justified suspicion of smuggling on the grounds that Latinx vehicle occupants had backpacks and undocumented immigrants may ‘often carry backpacks,’” the complaint said.
“Federal action is critically necessary to protect Black and Brown individuals caught up in the OLS migrant arrest program—and Latinx drivers and passengers in South Texas communities,” the civil rights organizations said.
The DOJ, ACLU of Texas, Texas Civil Rights Project, Texas DPS and Abbott’s office didn’t respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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