WESLACO, Texas (Border Report) — A day after a group of civil rights organizations asked the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into Operation Lone Star — a Texas initiative to combat migrant smuggling at the border — state officials say they have not been contacted by the federal government or been issued a complaint.
Lt. Chris Olivarez of the Department of Public Safety told Border Report on Thursday that the agency has received no formal complaint from the Department of Justice yet.
The ACLU of Texas, Latino Justice, Texas Civil Rights Project and Texas Fair Defense Project are among those on Wednesday that filed a Title VI complaint with the federal government alleging that Operation Lone Star is an “unlawful, racist and xenophobic system of state immigration enforcement in Texas.”
They say it targets Black and brown migrants, and they want federal funding affiliated with the operation revoked.
Olivarez said he has been on ranches alongside law enforcement and he disputes reports that troopers are escorting migrants across private fence lines to arrest them on trespassing charges.
“Those allegations saying we are violating civil rights well I don’t agree with that because I’ve been out there with them. We’ve spoken to ranch owners and they’re concerned, they’re concerned for their safety,” Olivarez said.
“We’re seeing large groups of these illegal immigrants coming across these ranches — these private ranches — and they are wearing camouflage clothing so these are not your typical asylum-seekers. These are illegal immigrants who are trying to get away for a reason,” Olivarez said. He added that they have arrested “criminal gang members mixed in with those groups.”
In response to what would happen if federal funds were pulled from agencies participating in Operation Lone Star, Olivarez said: “We’re not relying on the federal government, that’s why we took action since the beginning of March with Operation Lone Star and we’re going to continue moving forward.”
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.