Texas Moves Detained Illegal Immigrants to Vacant State Prison

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Texas law enforcement officials received the first migrants arrested and charged with state offenses at a vacant state prison on Tuesday, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday.

The first three migrants were transferred 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.

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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.

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“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 statement.

“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,” Abbott added. “We will surge the resources and law enforcement personnel needed to confront this crisis.”

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, according to the department. 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 statement. “The agency will continue to work with stakeholders and state leadership to assist counties as they deal with this significant challenge.”

Around 150 guards were reportedly staffing the empty state jail ahead of the migrants’ 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 migrants’ arrival while the Texas prison system is reportedly understaffed.

Border officials encountered nearly 190,000 migrants at the southern border in June, though a majority of them were rapidly expelled under public health order Title 42, according to Customs and Border Protection. Officials have encountered more than 900,000 migrants at the southern border since January.

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