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February 24, 2022 RAPID RESPONSE

Operation Lone Star: Texas’s Costly Attempt to Enforce Federal Immigration Law

Almost one ago, on March 6, 2021, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott announced the creation of ‘Operation Lone Star,’ his self-proclaimed “catch and jail” border security initiative. This program deploys Texas Department of Public Safety and National Guard troops to the border region to arrest and jail migrants in unprecedented numbers, on misdemeanor charges (mostly trespassing), and jails them for weeks or months before handing them over to immigration authorities. As expensive as it is problematic, the Texas Military Department has estimated that it will cost close to $2 billion this fiscal year. Advocates report that this program has been a breeding ground for racial profiling, biased policing, and has overwhelmed local judicial systems, leading to serious violations of due process. Under this program, thousands of migrants are languishing in jail, awaiting court dates for far longer than a sentence for these petty offenses would ever carry. A coalition, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project, filed a federal discrimination lawsuit which is currently pending against the state, alleging that migrants of color have been illegally targeted under this state action.

Hear from attorneys defending immigrants in state criminal proceedings and others who are working to challenge this controversial initiative to punish and deter migrants at the southern border.


  • Kathryn K. Dyer, Clinical Professor, Criminal Defense Clinic, The University of Texas at Austin School of Law
  • Claudia Muñoz, Co-Executive Director, Grassroots Leadership
  • Priscilla Orta, Deputy Special Project Director, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid
  • Laura Peña, Legal Director, Racial & Economic Justice, Texas Civil Rights Project


  • Denise L. Gilman, Director, Immigration Clinic, The University of Texas at Austin School of Law; Clinical Professor, The University of Texas at Austin School of Law; Commissioner, ABA Commission on Immigration

Joint Sponsor: ABA Commission on Immigration


US: Texas Targeting Migrants | Human Rights Watch 

Law Professor Letter on Operation Lone Star

Deplorable conditions, unclear mission: Texas National Guard troops call Abbott’s rushed border operation a disaster | The Texas Tribune & Military Times, February 1, 2022

Why Texas Is Struggling to Prosecute Migrants | The New York Times, January 27, 2022

Opinion: We want answers about the Texas governor’s Operation Lone Star | Military Times, January 12, 2022

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