AUSTIN (KXAN) — Several people are suing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other state leaders, stating the Operation Lone Star program is violating their civil rights.
The class-action civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of more than a dozen people Wednesday claims the Operation Lone Star program, the state of Texas and several law enforcement officials were violating their constitutional rights.
The lawsuit is filed against Gov. Abbott, Texas Department of Public Safety Director and Colonel Steven McCraw, Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Bryan Collier and Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe.
The plaintiffs are listed as a mixture of people from various states and countries, and several are listed as being currently incarcerated in Edinburg, Texas under the Operation Lone Star program.
KXAN has reached out to the Governor’s Office for comment on the lawsuit. We will update this story when we hear back.
Operation Lone Star (OLS) was launched in March of 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, in the past year, Abbott has deployed more than 10,000 National Guard members to patrol the border, build barriers and arrest migrants for trespassing charges and crossing into the U.S. through private land.
The plaintiffs are calling for action due to their arrest and “over-detention.” The group is seeking declaratory relief, injunctive relief, class certification and money damages.
The lawsuit states the arrests of migrants in the OLS program “regularly lack probable cause” and that most of those who are arrested through the program are “Latino and Black men.”
The program is “violating the targeted individuals’ constitutional rights and attempting to invade a field of immigration enforcement occupied by the federal government,” the lawsuit alleges.
In May 2021, Abbott issued a disaster declaration that covered several counties along or near the border, which gave him the authority to deploy the Texas National Guard to the border. While the federal government has the sole authority to enforce immigration laws, the Texas Tribune reported that Abbott increased trespassing penalties under the disaster declaration, directing state troopers to arrest migrants who crossed into the U.S. on private property.
On March 4, 2022, one year after the start of the program, the governor’s office reported that more than 200,000 migrants have been arrested, with more than 11,000 charges for criminal offenses.
The plaintiffs allege damages totaling over $5 million.