Texas law enforcement officials have received the first migrants arrested and charged with state offenses at a vacant state prison, a Department of Criminal Justice spokesperson says.
Officials on Tuesday transferred the first three migrants from the Val Verde County Jail near Del Rio, Texas, to the Dolph Briscoe Unit in Dilley as part of Operation Lone Star, according to a statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, announced Operation Lone Star in March, directing the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas National Guard to target human and narcotics smuggling at the southern border.
“The crisis at our southern border continues to escalate because of Biden administration policies that refuse to secure the border and invite illegal immigration,” Abbott said in a written statement, adding:
Texas supports legal immigration but will not be an accomplice to the open border policies that cause, rather than prevent, a humanitarian crisis in our state and endanger the lives of Texans. We will surge the resources and law enforcement personnel needed to confront this crisis.
#BREAKING As of yesterday, Texas began transferring arrested immigrants into a state prison, per Abbott’s order.
This is TDCJ statement on it: pic.twitter.com/UJxOeT49Dk
— Keri Blakinger (@keribla) July 21, 2021
Several state organizations—including the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement—have worked to establish alternative detention capacity at the Briscoe County Jail to move criminal illegal migrants from other counties, officials said.
Housing areas have been cooled, staff received licensed jailer training, and the facility has increased medical and correctional staff.
“Providing public safety is part of the core mission of the [Texas Department of Criminal Justice],” Executive Director Bryan Collier said in a formal statement. “The agency will continue to work with stakeholders and state leadership to assist counties as they deal with this significant challenge.”
About 150 guards were staffing the empty state jail ahead of the illegal immigrants’ arrival, The Texas Tribune reported July 9. More than 1,000 prisoners were transferred out of the unit to other state jails ahead of the their arrival while the Texas prison system is understaffed.
Border officials encountered nearly 190,000 illegal immigrants at the southern border in June, though a majority of them were rapidly expelled under public health order Title 42, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Officials have encountered more than 900,000 illegal immigrants at the southern border since January.
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