A South Texas judge has dismissed 6 criminal cases against migrants charged with trespassing, agreeing with defense attorneys alleging sex-based discrimination by only arresting men.
According to attorneys representing the migrants, under Operation Lone Star, 4,000 people, all men, have been arrested for criminal trespassing despite women and children being in the same circumstances as the men that are jailed.
The Lubbock Private Defenders Office is designated to provide legal counsel to those arrested under Operation Lone Star. Lawyers with LPDO argued to State District Judge Jose Lopez that the state of Texas is violating the rights of migrants by selectively prosecuting men over women.
“We raised a challenge under the ‘equal protection clause’ of the constitution arguing that the selective prosecution is unconstitutional and that the state is engaging in sex discrimination and Judge Lopez agreed,” Amrutha Jindal, the LPDO's chief defender of Operation Lone Star.
Judge Lopez did not write out his reasoning for dismissing the charges against the six migrants.
Lawyers representing the migrants also argued the state denied defendants their rights to a trial by facilitating their removal without the ability for the migrants to return to the United States.
“The second argument we raised was related to the fact that all of our clients that we had before Judge Lopez had been deported. So, they are not in the county, they’re not in the state, they’re not even in the country anymore. They had been deported,” Jindal said.
The government argued they do not have the facilities in place to house women, despite spending billions on Operation Lone Star. Texas also argued the federal government was deporting migrants and that the individuals could have other avenues to get back to the states.
“What we’ve seen in Operation Lone Star is that a lot of these processes are not being honored. Things are not occurring the way that state law or the constitution expects for them to, and when that happens, there needs to be consequences,” Jindal said.
Operation Lone Star is a target of a federal civil rights inquiry and has cost more than $3 billion dollars.
KHOU 11 reached out to the governor’s office for a comment. We have yet to hear back.