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Texas Governor Used Flawed Data to Boast About Operation Lone Star

Plus: Mexico restricts Venezuelans from crossing into U.S., and migrants are allegedly being illegally held under Texas crackdown 

Fisayo Okare

Mar 23, 2022

A close-up view of the fence along the U.S. border

A close-up view of the fence along the U.S. border (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

An investigation by ProPublica, Texas Tribune, and The Marshall Project shows there is limited evidence showing the success of Operation Lone Star, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s mission launched last year to counter illegal immigration and the illegal drug trade. Abbott and other officials have bragged about the mission’s “success,” including through arrests, pounds of drugs seized, and undocumented immigrants the state referred to the federal government. But the investigation shows the state’s claim of success has been based on “shifting metrics that included crimes with no connection to the border, work conducted by troopers stationed in targeted counties prior to the operation, and arrest and drug seizure efforts that do not clearly distinguish DPS’s role from that of other agencies.” Texas Tribune

Mexico’s Measures Working So Far in Restricting Venezuelans From Crossing Into U.S.

The number of undocumented Venezuelan immigrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border has dropped 88% between December and February, as Mexico imposed a visa requirement for Venezuelans entering the country. In addition, the Biden administration started to expel Venezuelans by air to Colombia. It remains uncertain whether Mexico banning admissions from individual countries will be a sustainable way to slow migration. “It is, in some ways, a game of whack-a-mole,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Senior Policy Counsel at American Immigration Council. “Last month, we saw a massive increase in nationals from Colombia and Cuba. Both of those nations also can fly into Mexico without any difficulty and without requiring a visa.” Washington Examiner

New Legal Filings Claim Migrants Are Being Illegally Held Under Texas Crackdown 

New legal filings reveal a pattern of men being illegally held for a month or more under Texas Gov. Abbott’s immigration crackdown, while their cases languish in overwhelmed courts. The state began arresting migrants and prosecuting them under Abbott’s order nearly eight months ago. But a group of defense attorneys told the state’s highest criminal court that some men spend months being detained before they are given an attorney, or that prosecutors file misdemeanor charges against them in violation of state laws — all of which are contrary to what Texas laws require. Attorneys say efforts to fix the due process violations and get the men out of prison have been met with further delay by court officials. Texas Tribune

Backlog in U Visa Program Endangering Those it Was Meant to Protect

The U.S.’s backlog in approving U visa applications stood at over 170,000 at the end of 2021, growing by an average of over 16,000 applications on a yearly basis since 2011. The Niskanen Center estimates it would take over 17 years to completely clear the backlog if no new U Visa petitions were filed. Major issues plague the program, including that police often refuse to certify victims of crimes and cooperating witnesses who should qualify for the visas, as Documented reported in December. In addition, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has failed to safeguard against fraudulent claims. The center suggests hiring 60-80 additional U visa adjudicators to see whether some visas could be recaptured. Niskanen Center

Fisayo Okare

Fisayo writes Documented’s "Early Arrival" newsletter and "Our City" column. She is an MSc. graduate of Columbia Journalism School, New York, and earned her BSc. degree in Mass Comm. from Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos.




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