Washington D.C. – This week brings troubling revelations that Operation Lone Star in Texas is no longer just a wasteful political stunt designed to burnish Gov. Greg Abbott’s nativist bona fides with GOP base voters, but a provocation that is dangerous for many Texans.
A new lawsuit, filed by the ACLU of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights project, finds at least 30 deaths linked to car chases related to Operation Lone Star, and systematic racial profiling targeting Latinos.
According to a Texas Tribune story by Jolie Mccullough, “Texas troopers are causing car chase fatalities and racially profiling drivers under Abbott’s border crackdown, complaint claims,” there are many troubling details:
“At least 30 people have been killed in state police car chases connected to Texas’ expansive border security operation since it began last March, according to a new complaint by civil rights groups.
The death tally, which includes five people not involved in the chases, was compiled from news reports and sent Thursday to the U.S. Department of Justice in an official complaint of alleged civil rights violations. The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project are pleading for federal intervention to halt policing practices under Gov. Greg Abbott’s multibillion-dollar Operation Lone Star, including the deadly car chases and an abundance of traffic stops and searches that disproportionately target Latinos.
…The civil rights groups also allege troopers excessively pull over Latinos — who make up the vast majority of border county populations — for minor traffic violations. They argue troopers prolong stops of Latinos to search for illegal activity based solely on their ethnicity.
…“This is an old tool being pulled out once again from the state to make a political point,” said Erin Thorn, a senior attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project. “It just feels like a systemized way to further entrench that militarization, which affects border communities with harassment and fines and fees they can’t afford.”
…“You have to ask yourself, what is the threat?” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum in Washington, D.C. “Is the threat worth endangering the people you’re chasing and the police officer who is chasing them? If something should happen, or a third party should somehow cross the street while this chase is going on and you kill that person, does that justify the pursuit?”
In cases where officers suspect a car full of people are being brought into the country illegally, Wexler said a chase puts all at risk. Without clear guidelines from the law enforcement agency, officers may make the wrong decision.
“Cops need to know what’s expected of them,” Wexler said. “And if you don’t tell them, you’re basically opening the door to potential tragedies.””
As Rep. Joaquin Castro tweeted, “@GovAbbott’s Operation Lone Star is harassing Hispanic communities and creating an intolerable police state in border towns,” calling the details in the lawsuit, “horrifying but not surprising.”
According to Mario Carillo, Campaigns Manager for America’s Voice, “Greg Abbott’s relentless and cynical anti-immigrant political stunts are wasteful, offensive, and dangerous. The troubling details in the new lawsuit show that Texans who look like me or my family are being profiled by Operation Lone Star and that a program supposedly about public safety instead seems to be causing fear and deaths.
These new details pile onto the real world examples in places like El Paso, showing the deadly consequences of Abbott’s, among many others, use of ‘invasion’ and ‘replacement’ language. Up and down the ballot, Texas Republicans such as Congresswoman Mayra Flores, and candidates Cassy Garcia and Monica de la Cruz, should be asked if they support racial profiling, the wasteful and deadly Operation Lone Star, and the reliance on dangerous white nationalist conspiracies and falsehoods to try and justify it. Texas voters deserve to know.”
- Read about the America’s Voice bilingual campaign, “Show Me Your Friends,” initially focused on six Republicans running in House battleground districts that run along parts of the U.S./Mexico border, including Texas GOP candidates Mayra Flores, Cassy Garcia, and Monica de la Cruz. Watch an explainer video about the campaign HERE. Watch individual videos focused on each of the GOP candidates HERE.