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Arrest Data Flawed in TX Operation Lone Star Immigration Enforcement

The arrest statistics used to measure the success of Texas' Operation Lone Star are flawed and misleading, ProPublica reports. In his effort to justify his program, which seeks combat illegal immigration through state law enforcement, Gov. Greg Abbott said the program has led to more than 11,000 arrests, seizures of millions of "lethal doses" of drugs, and referrals of tens of thousands of unauthorized immigrants to the federal government for deportation. Many of the arrests cited either bear no connection to border security or are carried out by agencies whose work has been unchanged by Operation Lone Star. In response to pressure from news agencies, the state's Department of Public Safety revised its arrest count for Lone Star down by more than 2,000. The state has consistently fought public records requests that would more clearly delineate the accomplishments and shortcomings of the program. There is virtually no way for news organizations to tell if the arrests that continue to be counted are connected to border security.

While legislators in Texas have spent more than $2.5 million a week on Lone Star, they have largely abdicated any oversight role. As the Texas gubernatorial election and the presidential election loom in November 2022 and 2024, respectively, Abbott has maintained that border security is a major issue. He has lambasted the Biden White House amid record levels of migrant arrivals at the border and used the border as a major issue separating himself and his gubernatorial challenger former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke. A large part of Lone Star, which is carried out by two Texas agencies, involves deploying troopers and National Guard members who are tasked with arresting incoming immigrants on state criminal trespassing charges. This move is unprecedented in Texas, and it has been responsible for around 40 percent of Lone Star's arrests.


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