The ruling could pave the way for other challenges to the controversial program.
The arrest of an Ecuadorian migrant under Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star” initiative was ruled unconstitutional by a Texas district judge on Thursday.
Some immigration advocates hope Travis County Judge Jan Soifer’s ruling could potentially pave the way for other migrants to be arrested under the controversial program.
Jesús Alberto Guzmán Curipoma, an engineer from Ecuador who hopes to apply for asylum, was arrested in September 2021 at a railroad switch yard in Kinney County on charges of criminal trespass.
Guzmán Curipoma’s attorneys, Angelica Cogliano and Addy Miró, argued that Operation Lone Star violated the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause which stipulates that federal law takes precedence over state law and thus prohibits forms of State law that interferes with the federal government’s immigration enforcement. Cogliano told ABC News her client could have applied for asylum, but was instead arrested and held for weeks.
The Travis County District Attorney’s office, which represented the state in the hearing, also agreed that Guzmán Curipoma’s arrest violated the Constitution.
“After careful consideration, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office has agreed that the prosecution of Guzmán Curipoma for criminal trespassing during Operation Lone Star violates the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution and represents a unacceptable attempt to violate federal immigration policy,” District Attorney Travis José Garza in a statement. “In addition, the DA’s office concluded that based on evidence, there were many ways in which the OLS program failed to meet the basic, fundamental, and procedural safeguards of the state and the federal government.”
Abbott launches Operation Lone Star in March 2021, deploying thousands of National Guardsmen, Texas Department of Public Safety personnel, and other state resources. to the border and gives them the power to arrest migrants on suspicion of trespassing on public and private property.
Human rights groups and the ACLU of Texas have called on the Justice Department to investigate a program they say establishes an alternative immigration system in which migrants are arrested on false accusations and subject to detention. detained for months without the opportunity to seek asylum or seek representation. In December 2021, the ACLU of Texas and other civil rights groups filed a complaint with the DOJ citing cases where migrants were alleged by law enforcement officers to have solicited personal property to may be arrested for trespassing.
“Operation Lonely Star is a policy whereby they pretend to arrest people they suspect are here illegally, which is a legal way of talking about brown people at the border for not Is there any other way for anyone to try and determine if someone looks like They might be illegal. It’s not what you look like,” Cogliano told ABC News. “It’s open to anyone to use. that as a reason to arrest those people for certain crimes and detain them longer than any US citizen would be held for that crime in Texas.”
Kathryn Dyer, a clinical professor at the University of Texas School of Law, testified at Thursday’s hearing and spoke about her experience representing other clients arrested under the program.
Dyer told ABC News: “When you start taking rights away and build a legal system that is separate to everyone, there’s no limit. It’s about immigrants and non-immigrants. “.
At a briefing in November, Texas DPS officials said there have been more than 9,300 criminal arrests since Operation Lone Star began.
“These very serious constitutional issues were finally heard and there was a judge who found there were such violations of the constitution that the case should be dismissed,” Dyer said. “I think those issues and that ruling could open the door to other challenges.”
A spokesman for Governor Abbott told ABC News in a statement that they expect the ruling to be overturned.
“The district court does not have the legal authority to make this omission and collusion judgment without a hearing from the Attorney General’s Office. It is certain that this will be overturned,” Nan Tolson said. “In the meantime, Texas will continue to do what admin Biden refuses to do: strengthen our border protections and protect Texans from allowed catastrophic open border policies. by President Biden.“
On Friday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a Tweet that he would oppose the ruling.
“Judge Lib Austin allowed Soros County DA Travis to represent the State of TX, then declared Op Lone Star unconstitutional. It’s ridiculous. Biden FAILED to secure the border. Texas intervened. We I have the right to defend my border if the union refuses. I will fight this nonsense on appeal,” he tweeted.
https://abcnews.go.com/US/migrants-arrest-operation-lone-star-ruled-unconstitutional/story?id=82266611 The arrest of migrants under ‘Operation Lone Star’ is said to be unconstitutional