A lawyer representing a county that has been looped in to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s beleaguered immigration crackdown, known as Operation Lone Star, said in court this week that the operation is a “waste of time and money,” according to the Houston Chronicle.
Attorney David Schulman, working on Kinney County’s behalf, made the remarks Wednesday in a case concerning whether county prosecutors should be allowed to bring trespassing cases against migrants who already have been deported.
“If you can’t prosecute them, why are you filing charges?” a justice asked Schulman, according to the Chronicle. The attorney’s reply was damning.
“That’s a very good question. I cannot answer that,” Schulman said, according to the report. “Would I agree that there’s very little logic in this? Yes. But these dockets exist.”
Abbott launched Operation Lone Star last year, at a time when Texas Republicans and other conservatives were literally calling for migrants trying to come to the U.S. to be treated like they were enemy combatants invading the country. The multibillion-dollar plan involves deploying thousands of Texas National Guard troops to the southern border.
It’s blatantly xenophobic, and it’s now under investigation by the Justice Department for potential civil rights violations. Right-wing Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said back in July that anti-immigrant efforts should be used as a way to let Texas officials “put hands on people and send them back” to where they came from. But the federal government has sole jurisdiction over immigration enforcement, which is part of the reason why authorities in Texas have largely been bringing trespassing cases — not immigration-related violations.
Schulman is hardly the first person to denounce Abbott’s plan as a troubling waste of resources.
For months, in fact, journalists in Texas have been reporting on anger among Texas National Guard members deputized by Abbott to carry out this nebulous mission. Guard members have complained about poor working conditions and pay, and more than one are suspected to have died by suicide.
Even extremist Republicans in Texas who largely share Abbott’s views on immigration — such as former state GOP Chair Allen West — have denounced Operation Lone Star as a disaster.
“This falls squarely on the shoulders of the person that ordered the commencement of Operation Lone Star, and that’s you, Gov. Abbott,” West said in January.
In March, Abbott tried to quiet some of the criticism by replacing the official leading the operation. It’s safe to say that didn’t work. In addition to subsequent criticism that Abbott received from Beto O’Rourke, his Democratic challenger in Texas’ gubernatorial race, the DOJ investigation got underway as well.
Abbott is running a re-election campaign that’s placing a heavy emphasis on immigration enforcement. Unfortunately for him, his signature effort on that front — Operation Lone Star — has been a mess from the start.