President Biden, Say No to SB 602 and Operation Lone Star

While Texas continues its relentless expansion of Operation Lone Star in violation of civil and human rights, more than 128 advocacy organizations from across the southern border region and the country issued a joint letter demanding President Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary (DHS) Mayorkas refuse to sign any agreements with the state under TX SB 602, new Operation Lone Star legislation now in effect allowing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to enforce Texas state criminal laws at Border Patrol checkpoints and Ports of Entry.

On September 1, 2023, SB 602 went into effect in the state of Texas, expanding the power of federal agents by allowing them to search, seize and arrest people at Ports of Entry and internal Border Patrol checkpoints for suspected state criminal violations having nothing to do with immigration. SB 602 unconstitutionally targets migrants and border residents alike based on race and national origin, violating human rights.

Senate Bill 602 passed at the Texas 88th Regular Legislative Session (2023) and says that:

  • Border Patrol agents have "the powers of arrest and search and seizure as to any [Texas] felony offense" if the arrest, search or seizure occurs at a POE in Texas, a Border Patrol checkpoint, and "is incident to a detainment under federal law." 
  • Texas will develop a training program on Texas criminal laws
  • Texas can enter into an agreement with CBP to administer trainings
  • Texas Attorney General will give notice to the Border Patrol Sector Chiefs in Texas about this new law
  • CBP has admitted to working with Texas to develop this bill, and claims that it will help them arrest intoxicated people encountered at checkpoints and address agent assaults. 

While Texas passed this law inviting CBP to make agreements with the state, CBP can and should refuse to engage. SB 602 makes agreements with Texas an option for the federal agency, and CBP is under no obligation to sign agreements with Texas.

CBP and the Biden Administration must reject working with Texas to further blur the line between criminal and immigration enforcement. CBP agents have no place enforcing state criminal laws. Texas' racist Operation Lone Star violates human rights, period. Border communities deserve a region that protects lives and human dignity instead.

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