Castro, Escobar, and Texas Democrats Call on the Department of Justice to Investigate Operation Lone Star National Guard Shooting
SAN ANTONIO – This week, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), and nine additional Democrats from the Texas House delegation sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) asking for a comprehensive investigation into the shooting of a Mexican national by a Texas National Guard servicemember along the border of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.
The letter, led by Congresswoman Escobar, comes amid Governor Greg Abbott’s continued interference with federal immigration enforcement and ongoing reports of inhuman treatment toward migrants and border communities as part of Operation Lone Star.
“Given Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s continued undermining of federal immigration responsibilities through OLS and tactics such as the buoy barrier system, an incident like the shooting on August 26 was inevitable. While we are relieved that the incident did not end in any fatalities, we remain highly concerned that unless it is taken seriously and those responsible are held accountable, it is only a matter of time until the next such incident, or something far deadlier, occurs,” the members wrote.
Congressman Castro has repeatedly raised concerns about Operation Lone Star. Earlier in August, he led members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in a letter asking the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to launch a full investigation into the intentional separation of migrant families at the hands of the Texas Department of Public Safety. In July, he joined Congresswoman Escobar and other Texas Democrats in a letter urging the Biden administration to investigate Governor Abbott’s buoy barriers for potential violations of international law and additionally led more than 80 House Democrats in a separate letter calling on the administration to assert its authority to investigate Governor Abbott's Operation Lone Star border operation and pursue legal action to prevent the abuses of power that have been inherent in the operation. Shortly after the two July letters were sent, the Department of Justice filed suit against Texas for installing the buoy barriers without federal authorization.
On August 31, Reps. Castro, Jesús “Chuy” García, and Nydia Velázquez also offered an amendment to the 2024 Department of Defense appropriations bill that would bar the use of military funding to send combat troops into Mexico absent Congressional authorization.
In addition to Castro and Escobar, the letter was signed by Reps. Jasmine Crockett, Colin Allred, Sylvia Garcia, Al Green, Marc Veasey, Greg Casar, Lloyd Doggett, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Vicente Gonzalez.
The full text of the letter can be found here and below.
Dear Attorney General Garland:
We write to urge the Department of Justice to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the shooting of a Mexican national by a Texas National Guard Servicemember along the border of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, ensure accountability for the parties responsible, and maintain the trust between our nations.
On August 26, a Texas National Guard Servicemember assigned to Operation Lone Star (OLS) reportedly shot and injured a Mexican national along the banks of the Rio Grande River in Juarez.
While details of this incident are still emerging, reports indicate that the Servicemember acted in response to the Mexican national threatening migrants along the bank. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has already directed the Texas Rangers to investigate the shooting. However, as Operation Lone Star is a joint operation between DPS and the Texas Military Department, the Texas Rangers are not an impartial entity in this investigation. Additionally, given that a Mexican national was involved in this incident, we urge the Department of Justice to open its own investigation into the shooting and to collaborate closely with our Mexican counterparts.
Given Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s continued undermining of federal immigration responsibilities through OLS and tactics such as the buoy barrier system, an incident like the shooting on August 26 was inevitable. While we are relieved that the incident did not end in any fatalities, we remain highly concerned that unless it is taken seriously and those responsible are held accountable, it is only a matter of time until the next such incident, or something far deadlier, occurs.
National Guard Servicemembers do not have the authority or training to engage with asylum seekers or conduct any immigration-related duties, yet they have been explicitly ordered by Governor Abbott to prevent migrants from entering the United States, even if it means physically pushing migrants back into the Rio Grande to drown. Given these clear directives, upon which many OLS agents have already acted, we are concerned that reports indicating the Servicemember was acting to defend migrants from violence may not be comprehensive. As such, we also request this investigation examine what, if any, training, protocols, and policies have been put in place by Operation Lone Star to ensure U.S. law enforcement officers, both federal and state, and servicemembers are able to handle situations such as this involving individuals of different nationalities, including migrants and foreign law enforcement officers.
Since launching in March 2021, OLS has cost Texas taxpayers over $4.5 billion and endangered asylum seekers, children and families, United States National Guard Servicemembers, and federal law enforcement personnel. Operation Lone Star has been a disaster for Texas, our border, and for vulnerable migrants seeking a better life in the United States. Now, its uncoordinated and politically motivated actions on our southern border are endangering the U.S.’ international partnerships.
For these reasons, we urge the Department of Justice to act swiftly through joint efforts, sharing of information, and coordination with our Mexican counterparts to provide a comprehensive investigation that is fair and respectful of both nations’ interests.
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