In a not-so-recent turn of events, it appears that Gov. Greg Abbott’s border mission is backfiring, allowing migrants a clearer path to the U.S, according to defense attorneys and county officials.
The Governors deployed thousands of Texas National Guard Troops and state police to the southern border to combat the “humanitarian crisis” caused by illegal immigration, out of fear that illegal immigrants could be jailed for months on state misdemeanor charges.
However, thanks to Operation Lone Star most immigrants charged with trespassing charges are resolving their cases or are being released from jail on bond in far less time than the 6 months to a year it would normally take, as reported by The Houston Chronicle.
Then they are free to stay in the U.S. as they make their claims for asylum. According to defense attorneys, this is a shortcut around two of Trump’s signature immigration policies: Title 42, which allows federal authorities to immediately turn back migrants before they can make an asylum claim, and the Migrant Protection Protocols, which require some asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their U.S. immigration hearings.
Ironically Abbott has repeatedly slammed President Joe Biden for diverging from Trump’s immigration policies.
“Operation Lone Star has allowed our clients to avoid federal programs where they would have not only been expelled, but would have had to remain in Mexico [amid] pending asylum proceedings,” said Kristin Etter – an attorney with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid who has represented more than 700 of the migrants – in an interview with The Houston Chronicle.
“Furthermore, even if our clients are convicted of criminal trespass under Operation Lone Star, that has no impact on their immigration status and does not make them ineligible for asylum or other forms of immigration relief.”
Val Verde County Attorney David Martinez agrees that the state’s border mission appears to be helping asylum-seekers to work around federal policy.
“We don’t base any of our decisions on the federal immigration practices. We’re focused only on enforcing Texas law,” said Martinez, a Democrat. “But I think anybody who’s paying attention understands that through Operation Lone Star, some of these immigrants have been afforded an opportunity that perhaps would not have existed but for Operation Lone Star.”