Roberto Lopez, born and raised in South Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, leads the Texas Civil Rights Project’s Beyond Borders Program, which works to defend the civil and human rights of border communities and of the people migrating through the borderlands.
Inspired by the United Farm Workers movement, the nonprofit Texas Civil Rights Project was founded in 1990. It has taken a strong stand against the illegality of Texas’s Operation Lone Star. Beginning in March 2021, Operation Lone Star sanctioned the deployment of National Guard and state police—from Texas and other states—to the Texas-Mexico border. Under the initiative, asylum seekers and migrants are charged with criminal trespassing when they enter Texas. They are then held in state-run prisons.
Recently, at least 14 Republican-led states have sent police and National Guard to Texas border communities under Operation Lone Star. Lopez says residents have no idea what policies these out-of-state police are operating under, including their policies on use of force. And holding them accountable is very difficult.
“When we talk about law enforcement in border communities and the operations they conduct, it’s often in remote parts of the state,” Lopez says. “We could see a situation where a Florida police officer goes beyond his authority … let’s say in apprehending immigrants. … It’s really hard to document what’s happening on the ground.”
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