- Under the mantle of Governor Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, which seeks to stop the flow of immigration, Latinos living in South Texas are suffering unjustified reprisals
TUCSON, Arizona – Latino residents of Texas who live in areas bordering Mexico denounce harassment, discrimination and unjustified detentions by the officers deployed by Governor Greg Abbott as part of his controversial Operation Lone Star, which seeks to stop the flow of migrants.
“When Operation Lone Star started, we honestly didn’t care. However, suddenly we were inundated with officers and we began to notice how more and more often those of us who live here, particularly those of Latino origin, are detained and forced to present identification,” said Moisés Lozano, a resident of the border community of Brackettville. , in Kinney County.
The situation has reached the point that Lozano installed video cameras in his car and he himself carries a camera, ready to record any unjustified arrest against him or his neighbors.
In March 2021, Abbott launched Operation Lone Star, ordering Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers to detain undocumented immigrants crossing the border.
He also sent the National Guard to the border and declared “disaster zones” in 53 counties, many of which have a majority Latino population.
Lozano, 62, says he has been pulled over while driving his old truck but never while driving his newer car.
“The first time they stopped me they told me it was because my truck had tinted windows. My truck has always had tinted windows and I’ve never been pulled over before; they were just looking for an excuse,” he exposed.
He assured that this happens more and more frequently to Latino drivers, who are stopped and their cars are often searched without a legal order.
Brackettville is a rural community 30 miles from the Mexican border with fewer than 2,000 residents, 83% of whom are Latino, according to Census data.
The complaints are being documented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP). According to these groups, citations served to drivers have quadrupled in Kinney County alone since Operation Lone Star began.
The number of DPS agents assigned to that county has also tripled since the controversial operation against undocumented immigration began.
“If a DPS officer sees a family in an old car, they immediately harass them and arrest them,” said Lozano, a retired veteran of the Armed Forces, who claims that one of his neighbors was threatened by an agent with sending the juvenile jail to their children if they did not present their IDs.
Lozano, who has lived in that community for four years, constantly takes a neighbor who has dementia for a drive, and is frequently “followed” by DPS officers.
On one occasion, an agent followed him to his house and before he entered, the officer shined his patrol lights on him, asking him to stop. “He told me that he was stopping me because the license plate of my car did not correspond to the information in the registry,” he said.
He stated that even though he asked him to double check the information, the agent refused.
“I refused to play his dirty game and demanded that he show me something that said my badge didn’t match, and asked him to call one of his supervisors,” he said.
Tired of what he considers “abuse,” Lozano filed a formal complaint against the DPS agent and has since installed and carried video cameras.
“When the agents see the camera they leave. It’s more effective than carrying a rifle; they don’t want people to know what’s going on,” he asserted.
Erin Thorn, an attorney for TCRP, said the numbers of citations and stopped drivers, especially Latinos, have increased considerably in all Texas border counties.
She considers that one of the most worrying aspects is that the arrests are based solely on the “whim” of the agent. Another alarming fact, she assures, is the constant police persecutions that are reported in these communities, which have resulted in serious accidents or fatalities.
ACLU and TCRP sent a letter asking the US Department of Justice to investigate the legality of Operation Lone Star, questioning the fact that undocumented migrants are arrested and jailed on trespassing charges. But recently they sent an amendment to her petition adding the harassment suffered by residents of border communities.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.