Human rights group criticizes Operation Lone Star
An advocacy organization wants the Department of Public Safety to change their pursuit policy.
The group, Human Rights Watch, accuses the department of human rights violations. They claim police chases between troopers and suspected smugglers during Operation Lone Star are more likely to be deadly.
Under Operation Lone Star, DPS says they've saved hundreds of migrant children.
The Human Rights Watch says their data found, since the start of Operation Lone Star, chases have led to the deaths of 74 people and have injured another 189.
"We were hearing reports of border residents seeing an increase in these very dangerous high-speed pursuits," Human Rights Watch Consultant Norma Herrera said.
It was those reports that pushed Human Rights Watch to investigate Operation Lone Star.
Governor Greg Abbott launched the operation in 2021, as a response to a rise in illegal immigration. Human Rights Watch does research and advocacy for human rights.
"We found a higher rate of collisions, injuries, deaths and so what this means is there is harm to border residents specifically," Herrera said.
About 77 pages of data, along with accounts from witnesses and expert interviews, were published on Monday. The researchers suggest pursuits under Operation Lone Star were more likely to end in deaths, injuries or property damage.
Human Rights Watch data found an increase in high speed chases in counties where Operation Lone Star resources are deployed, including all Rio Grande Valley counties.
Local DPS Spokesperson Sgt. Guadalupe Cazares says troopers chase drivers for a specific reason, safety.
"The people that are putting the community in danger, civilians in danger, are the people that are fleeing," Sgt. Cazares said.
Cazares said the increase in chases is because there are more resources than before, more eyes on the roads. He believes the added resources are needed for both border communities and migrants.
As a conclusion to the report, Human Rights Watch calls on DPS to stop chasing suspected smugglers and trespassers.
A policy that DPS says for now will stay in place.
A spokesperson for the Office of Governor Greg Abbott, Renae Eze, released the statement below:
"President Biden's reckless open border policies invite Mexican cartels to profit off the chaos through dangerous human trafficking and smuggling operations along the border that endanger innocent lives. Mexican cartels and human traffickers have a clear disregard for human life as they smuggle people in high-speed pursuits and in dangerous conditions, like the 53 migrants who died in a tractor trailer in San Antonio last year. Governor Abbott has deployed thousands of Texas National Guard soldiers and DPS troopers to respond to this Biden-made border crisis and save lives. Since launching Operation Lone Star, they have apprehended over 485,000 illegal immigrants, seized over 449 million lethal doses of fentanyl, and arrested over 36,800 criminals — all of which would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and our country thanks to President Biden."
To read Human Rights Watch full report on Operation Lone Star, click here.
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