DEL RIO, Texas – Amanda Woog, executive director of the Texas Fair Defense Project, has been in Del Rio, Texas, with Grassroots Leadership to learn more about the plight of migrants seeking asylum.

Texas Fair Defense Project is a legal organization that fights to end the criminalization of poverty.

TFDP issued this statement via Twitter about Woog’s visit:

Our executive director is in Del Rio with Grassroots Leadership observing the mounting migrant crisis. Gov. Abbott mobilized law enforcement across the state and U.S. to target migrants, creating very dangerous conditions.

Amanda Woog

Because of Abbott’s executive order restricting transporting migrants, people are afraid to help migrant families. The local shelter wouldn’t take people in because they could not help them get out.

So instead of dropping people off at the shelter like they usually do, CBP dropped families off at a local gas station. Pregnant people, children and others were stranded with no place to go.

Law enforcement from different states, counties and cities are in Del Rio. There are no hotel rooms. Migrant families are walking around the city looking for a place to sleep.

Because of Abbott’s EO restricting transportation of migrants, this crisis will mount. CBP told some families yesterday to get out now, because they won’t be able to in 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Abbott mobilized private landowners to enforce his deranged immigration policy. In Cotulla, ranchers are looking for people to arrest on criminal trespass for “Operation Lone Star.” 

Under the “Operation,” migrants are arrested and charged with criminal trespass. The criminal trespass is enhanced because of the border disaster declaration to a Class A misdemeanor.

Abbott cleared a state prison to hold people arrested under Lone Star. But it’s not meant for people held pretrial, who need regular access to the courts and their attorneys. The prison in Dilley (Briscoe Unit) is 2+ hours from the courthouse.

The Val Verde Sheriff set up a “processing” tent outside their jail for people arrested under Lone Star. They are booked, magistrated and then transported to the Briscoe Unit. At least 55 people are now in Briscoe.

More than 30 judges were brought out of retirement to “magistrate” people charged with criminal trespass. No one has been able to afford their bond the judges set.

The level of coordination and mobilization in these efforts is terrifying. There are state troopers from Florida, sheriff deputies from Montgomery and Wilson counties, Texas National Guard. Judges from across the state have been hired to put the gloss of “legality” on it.

DPS said they’re not separating families, but that’s not true. Jolie McCullough of The Texas Tribune wrote an important article documenting Operation Lone Star and how an elderly couple was separated. Click here to read it.

We also heard of a young man who was separated from his elderly father. The people being arrested for criminal trespass are terrified, confused and isolated.

Abbott is forcing a crisis in Del Rio and many families and people are going to be caught in the crosshairs. The situation is mounting and dangerous. National media and federal authorities need to be here.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows a patrol car from the Sheriff of Galveston in Del Rio, Texas. Courtesy: Grassroots Leadership.

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