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Immigration Law

ACLU Letter to DHS: Do Not Collaborate With TX State Cops

ACLU, Aug. 8, 2022

"On July 7, 2022, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order purporting to “authorize and empower the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety to . . . apprehend[] immigrants who cross the border between ports of entry or commit other violations of federal law, and to return [them] to the border at a port of entry.” The Texas Tribune has now reported witnessing Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers busing about a dozen men and women, apparently suspected to be migrants, to a commercial vehicle inspection site in Eagle Pass, Texas; detaining them outside for almost three hours; and then transferring them to Border Patrol custody. We write to express serious concern regarding this set of events, and the possibility that similar unilateral arrest, transportation, and detention, followed by transfer to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody, may be occurring elsewhere along the Texas-Mexico border. We urge the Department of Homeland Security not to collaborate with these actions by Texas state police. Specifically, DHS should decline to take custody of individuals in these circumstances, and should prevent Texas state and local officials from detaining individuals on federal property pursuant to Governor Abbott’s executive order. We request that the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) (1) monitor Eagle Pass and other Texas ports of entry to ensure that DHS acts appropriately; (2) collect and publicize data on the purported state authority for transfers of individuals from DPS to DHS custody; (3) identify gaps in CBP policy and protocols and issue relevant recommendations to CBP; and (4) take all appropriate steps to identify and address civil rights violations that are occurring or may occur as a result of Governor Abbott’s executive order. ... We request that CRCL investigate whether DPS is in fact transporting migrants to a location near the Eagle Pass port of entry and detaining them while awaiting transfer to CBP custody. If that is in fact occurring, we request the end to such transfers and any and all appropriate further actions regarding violations of applicable law and DHS policy. Further, we request that CRCL: (1) Monitor Texas ports of entry, including the Eagle Pass port of entry, to ensure that CBP completely rejects involvement with Governor Abbott’s efforts to transport migrants to ports of entry pursuant to his July 7 executive order; (2) Collect information on any transfers of individuals from DPS to DHS custody, including under what purported state authority the individuals were held by DPS, and publicize aggregate data; (3) Identify gaps in CBP policy and protocols and issue relevant recommendations to CBP; and (4) Take all further appropriate steps to identify and address civil rights violations that are occurring or may occur as a result of Governor Abbott’s executive order."