NBC News reported that the two men “should have been released from the Dolph Briscoe Unit state prison in Dilley by Thursday afternoon when a federal immigration detainer, good for 48 hours, expired at 1:47 p.m., attorneys said.” Grassroots Leadership said that Just Futures Law had on Thursday written to Dolph Briscoe Unit’s warden about the expiration. But “[w]hen advocates inquired in person about the release of Mr. Nava and Mr. Muñoz, they were told the men would not be released despite the illegal nature of their further detention.”
The Texas Tribune reported last week that about 1,000 mostly Latino men have been jailed under the “abusive, dangerous, and unlawful” Operation Lone Star scheme. Nava and Muñoz, for example, “were forced to sign pre-filled legal forms in English they could not understand,” Grassroots Leadership and Just Futures Law said. Charges were not filed against the two men until they’d already spend 45 days in detention. By the time advocates made it to court, they’d been detained more than 50 days.
Nearly 250 men detained under the Operation Lone Star scheme have subsequently been ordered released after legal advocates challenged “widespread violations of state law and constitutional rights to due process,” The Texas Tribune said. That should’ve included Nava and Muñoz. “Despite the court’s ruling ordering their release, the jail is illegally holding both men on an immigration detainer request that expired yesterday,” Grassroots Leadership said on Friday. Yet Abbott will have the gall to claim that his scheme is all about law and order, right?
“Lone Star echoes the decades-old racist tactics of Arizona’s Maricopa County former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and county attorney Bill Montgomery in which thousands of immigrants were prosecuted for employment irregularities to trigger deportation,” Just Futures Law, Grassroots Leadership, Texas Fair Defense Project, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF said. “However, Governor Abbott has gone far beyond Sheriff Arpaio,” by bringing in out-of-state law enforcement and using a “massive arsenal of state resources,” they continued. “Basically, Greg Abbott has taken on the task of holding the line for Trump-era immigration practices,” Grassroots Leadership Co-Executive Director Claudia Muñoz told Prism.
“I’ve seen a lot in my time doing this work, but I have never seen something on this scale,” Muñoz continued. “I don’t want to call what Abbott is doing ‘organizing,’ but it kind of is. He has orchestrated this entire enforcement operation in Texas and it’s been really effective. I keep telling people that if we don’t get a grip on this soon, it’s going to be really, really bad.” This refusal to release Nava and Muñoz when they should have been released could be just a preview of what’s to come.