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Cassidy Fallik, Communications Director, (913) 748-1278,

February 1, 2024

ACLU affiliates issue a response to Republican governors’ escalation on immigration enforcement

Last week the governors of 25 states signed a letter in support of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s violent border enforcement regime. As residents and affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union in those governors’ states, we are compelled to speak out against this misguided and cruel escalation.

Our first message is simple: Not in our name. While the governors of our respective states throw their support behind Gov. Abbott and his extreme and hateful policies, we know that this is not what our communities stand for. 

The ACLU of Texas has been sounding the alarm about Operation Lone Star since its creation. This multi-billion dollar, anti-immigrant program has resulted in deadly vehicular pursuits, racial profiling and unlawful arrests, and severe injuries to people seeking protection. Under Gov. Abbott’s watch, the state has seized private land and even taken over public parks, excluding residents from their own community areas.

Our governors are embracing Gov. Abbott’s xenophobic rhetoric and putting communities of color and immigrants in danger instead of working to improve quality of life in our states. This is not standing up for our communities; it is standing against them.

Cruelty is not a policy solution, nor is it leadership. In their words and actions, the governors of our states seek to score political points by sowing death and suffering at the border.

On January 12, a woman and two children from Mexico drowned in the river near Eagle Pass, Texas. Their names were Victerma de la Sancha Cerros, 33; Yorlei Rubi, 10; and Jonathan Agustín Briones de la Sancha, 8. Last summer, we saw how officers working with Operation Lone Star put razor wire-wrapped buoys in the river resulting in awful injuries. Officials were also reportedly ordered to push small children back into the Rio Grande and deny water to people seeking asylum in record-breaking temperatures. 

None of these horrific abuses can ever be justified, and none of them stopped people from seeking safety in the U.S. We are appalled that our governors would support this type of violence against people seeking protection in the name of the “rule of law.” Instead our governors should work together with communities and the federal government to invest in better solutions for the states receiving migrants and improve our immigration system.

The “crisis” here is a political one. The federal government has experimented with every possible cruel policy to stop people seeking asylum from coming to the U.S. — from Title 42, to family detention, to family separation. These policies have never stopped people from coming to the U.S. — instead they created incredible harm, devastating families and leaving vulnerable people exposed to rape, torture, murder, and kidnapping while preventing them from accessing our asylum system. If we are serious about solving the challenges at the border, we need to improve border processing and invest in our asylum and immigration court systems — not push people seeking asylum to take increasingly dangerous routes to safety. Our governors should be pushing for solutions that would make our communities stronger, like funding for receiving communities, more lawful pathways, better port processing, and expanded work authorization.

Every state in the U.S. is not, as these governors claim, a “border state.” But every state is an American state, and as such we have a responsibility to treat our neighbors with dignity and respect, in keeping with our laws and morals.

We reject Gov. Abbott and his enablers’ actions at the border in the severest possible terms. Immigrants make our country stronger. Cruelty at the border is a sign of our failure to live up to our own values.


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ACLU of South Dakota

ACLU of Tennessee 

ACLU of Texas

ACLU of Utah

ACLU of Virginia

ACLU of West Virginia

ACLU of Wyoming