Press Release


Press Contacts:

Enough is Enough
Abbott’s Cruelty Must End

Washington, DCThe #WelcomeWithDignity campaign for asylum rights is outraged at the news reports that Texas state troopers have separated at least 26 families at the U.S.-Mexico border under Texas’ Operation Lone Star. Texas Governor Abbott’s decision to repeat one of the most horrific and cruel practices of the Trump administration is unconscionable. It is the latest of Abbott’s inhumane and deadly tactics in his campaign of cruelty against people who are seeking safety. Enough is enough – it is time for the federal government to intervene and investigate Operation Lone Star and end Abbott’s cruelty. 

“We were already shocked and appalled by the razor wire and buoy barriers, denial of water, and pushbacks of children into the river. With Texas troopers separating families at the border, the world can now see that Governor Abbott’s cruelty knows no bounds. The Governor will continue to punish families for seeking safety unless the federal government intervenes,” said
Melina Roche, #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign Manager. “We urge the Biden administration to immediately reunite separated families and launch an investigation into Texas’ Operation Lone Star.”

“My family is fighting so that family separation doesn’t happen again, but it is happening now in Texas,” said
Lucinda Padilla-Gonzalez, a member of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) who was separated from her two children as a result of the zero tolerance policy. “I thought the family separation policy had ended, but this is my worst nightmare because it is happening again. I’m trying to prevent my kids from watching television because I don’t want them to see that what happened to us is happening to other families in Texas. I don’t want them to have to relive everything they went through again and again.”

“Texas’ actions at the border are a national shame and more than that, plain evil,” said
Dylan Corbett, Executive Director of Hope Border Institute. “The violence against families and vulnerable people on the move that occurs along our southern border is a moral failure. We can not afford to stand by silently in the face of such injustice and inhumanity. The Biden administration must intervene forcefully and with speed to ensure there is no more loss of life due to the deadly buoys and barbed wire in the Rio Grande and that no more families are separated.”

“The separation of families as part of Operation Lone Star is unconscionable and must end immediately,” said
Marisa Limón Garza, Executive Director, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. “The American public knows the devastating impact of these actions by now. We will not stand idly by and watch Governor Abbott and Operation Lone Star inflict cruelty for cruelty’s sake. We urge the federal government to do everything in their power to reverse Abbott’s inhumane policies, and bring justice to all families impacted by Abbott’s Operation Lone Star.”

Guerline Jozef, the Founder and Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance,
stated “The Haitian Bridge Alliance is a firsthand witness to the devastating impact of these cruel and inhumane acts of violence against migrants. Week after week, we lay to rest individuals, including innocent children, at the US-Mexico border—individuals whose families were forced to flee in search of safety. We urgently call upon Governor Abbott to cease his heartless and reprehensible actions, which encompass the separation of families, the Operation Lone Star Border pushbacks, the implementation of razor wire and floating buoy walls. These actions continue to wreak havoc on countless lives. We implore the federal government to hold him accountable for these crimes against humanity. We earnestly urge the American populace to denounce the savage, heartless, and lethal measures carried out by Governor Abbott, and instead stand for compassion in support of families in search of refuge.”

“Intentional forced separation of Indigenous families is a genocidal tactic all too familiar to Native Peoples throughout the world. The U.S. government’s treatment of Native peoples in forced removal and relocation policies have caused intergenerational trauma, and history is repeating itself. The horrific racist Zero Tolerance policy under the Trump administration violated the basic human rights of thousands of families and children. The majority of children stolen from their parents from 2017–2021 are in fact Maya, causing irreparable harm to them, and many remain separated five years later,”
said Lorena Brady, Policy and Program Manager at the International Mayan League. “Governor Abbott’s extreme tactics against defenseless children and families seeking refuge are deplorable. These human rights violations are amplified because many Indigenous migrant families are monolingual and speak their Indigenous languages, making communication in these traumatic instances a serious concern. When Indigenous families are separated, there is a high probability that many will remain separated. Subjecting their children to erroneous foster care placements and/or illegal adoptions. The denial of Indigenous language rights for Indigenous peoples has life-altering consequences that, in the most extreme cases, can even cause death. Governor Abbott’s lack of humanity must be stopped, and the Biden Administration must be held accountable to uphold all refugees and migrants basic human rights.”

“We are deeply disturbed by recent reports of family separation, loss of life, and gross injustice coming from the U.S.-Mexico border. On August 2, a
report from the Houston Chronicle documented dozens of children separated from their fathers due to an apparent policy shift from Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Child-parent separation has profound and devastating consequences, and these actions recall the appalling scenes of the Trump-era Zero Tolerance Policy,”  said Danilo Zak, Acting Director of Policy & Advocacy at CWS. “Family separation is just one horrific element of a laundry list of barbaric tactics employed by the Abbott administration under Operation Lone Star, including the recent installation of barbed wire along the border, the establishment of a buoy barrier on the Rio Grande, and reported instructions to State Troopers to push children back into the river and refuse care to migrants in distress. August 3rd reports of two bodies found in the buoy barriers are the inevitable and anguishing result of these tactics, for which cruelty and inhumanity are not merely a byproduct but their overarching goal. We urge Governor Abbott to end Operation Lonestar and call for further intervention from the Biden administration to prevent more senseless separation, trauma, and loss of life at the border.” 

“The latest inhumane deterrence tactics incorporated into Operation Lone Star ratchet up the already reprehensible cruelty of the Abbott administration’s multi-billion dollar political stunts. Border pushbacks, razor wire, floating buoy walls, and systemic family separation have absolutely no place on the doorstep of the world’s humanitarian leader,” said
Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “These actions betray the very essence of who we are as a nation that values the sanctity of every human life. Such cruelty exposes the fear from which the Abbott administration operates, as it treats desperate children and families seeking safety as cause for existential panic and draconian experiments in deterrence. Governor Abbott must immediately put an end to the intentional suffering, fear, and despair these policies have inflicted on vulnerable people who have already endured unimaginable hardships.”

“During the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, I witnessed how family separation inflicts lasting trauma on the parents and children who were cruelly torn apart. It is unconscionable that this horrific practice is added onto a long list of cruel practices already taking place under Governor Abbott’s Operation Lone Star – including using razor wire and large buoys to block the Rio Grande shore. When people are fleeing to save their lives, attempts at deterrence only place vulnerable people in more danger and anguish, rather than stop their need to seek safety,” said
Katharina Obser, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “We urge Governor Abbott to end Operation Lone Star and all immigration enforcement practices that aim to punish and harm families for seeking safety.”

“Family separations never happen in a vacuum,” said
Azadeh Erfani, Senior Policy Analyst at the National Immigrant Justice Center. “History has shown they are the symptoms of a greater pattern of dehumanization and systemic racism. For years, Operation Lone Star has put a target on the backs of Black, Brown, and Indigenous families. Rather than condemn and combat this harmful initiative, we have seen the Biden administration standing by, or enacting parallel measures that punish families and harm migrant children. The time to end these practices is long overdue. Both federal and state governments should do everything in their power to reunite these families and root out the bias that repeats this shameful history.”

“While deeply disturbed, frankly we are not surprised. These family separations track with other unlawful orders of Governor Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, including his instructions to Texas troopers to push refugee children back into the Rio Grande, to deny refugees water in scorching 100+ heat, and the installation of  buoys and razor wire barriers in the Rio Grand to prevent refugees from stepping foot on US. soil and accessing the US asylum process, said
Nicole Ramos, Al Otro Lado’s Border Rights Project Director. “We demand that Governor Abbott cease this heinous practice immediately, and that the federal government holds him— along with every officer and/or soldier who carried out this unlawful order, accountable in a court of law and investigate the egregious civil rights violations under Operation Lone Star.”

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and senseless harm caused by the deplorable actions of Texas this week,” said
Robyn Barnard, Director of Refugee Advocacy for Human Rights First. “The Biden administration must take action to put a stop to Operation Lone Star and hold those responsible for its harm accountable. For years, Texas has been allowed to mistreat and target immigrants for violence through this policy and it must stop. The Governor of Texas must stop playing politics with the lives of human beings,  many of whom are simply exercising their legal right to seek protection.” 

“We have been appalled by the deadly and unlawful tactics deployed under Operation Lone Star, ” said
Karen Musalo, Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “Governor Abbott’s increasingly violent practices – including pushbacks of refugee children into the Rio Grande, razor wire, and buoy walls – have resulted in deaths and serious injuries to asylum seekers. This week reports emerged of systemic family separations, an unacceptable practice that inflicts lasting trauma on parents and children. We urge the U.S. Department of Justice to fully investigate the abuses perpetrated under Operation Lone Star. We also call on the Department of Homeland Security to swiftly reunite the separated families and exempt them from the unlawful asylum ban.”

“We are heartbroken and outraged to hear that the rights of families are once again being violated at the southern border, with Texas governor Greg Abbott weaponizing one of the cruelest and most vile deterrence tactics our nation has borne witness to—family separation,” said
Shalyn Fluharty, Executive Director at Americans for Immigrant Justice. “We call on the federal government to use its authority to intervene, reunite all affected families, and prevent any further harm to people and families coming to the United States.”

Vanessa Cardenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice
said: “As if recent revelations about pushing migrant children back into the Rio Grande and denying water to mothers wasn’t enough, we now are learning that Gov. Greg Abbott is reinstituting family separations and forcing us to revisit one of the darkest chapters of recent American history.  America and Americans are better than this. In 2018 and still today, we condemn the cruelty of the separation of families as a matter of deterrence policy and dehumanizing political theater. The Biden administration should challenge this latest outrage from Texas and Americans across the political spectrum should again speak out to denounce what is happening in our country and in our name.”

“Gov. Abbott and the state of Texas ordering family separation and actions that lead to the death of children and adult asylum seekers is outrageous,” said
Ronnate Asirwatham, Director  Government Relations, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. “Pope Francis has said that family separation is ‘something a Christian cannot do.’ The federal government must intervene to stop the constant abuse and death of people seeking safety at our southern border.”

“As an organization that advocates for the rights and well-being of children, we know firsthand the devastating impact family separations can have on young lives. Children and parents experience immense trauma when torn apart, and the effects can be long-lasting, leading to emotional distress and lasting psychological harm,” said
Christy Gleason, Vice President of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at Save the Children. “We have seen this cruel practice before during the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, and it is distressing to witness its resurgence, adding family separation to a series of harsh practices, such as using razor wire, pushing children and families back, and deploying large buoys to block the Rio Grande, only exacerbates the vulnerability of people seeking safety and protection.”

“Ripping children from their fathers is only the latest in Abbott’s deliberately callous and inhumane attacks, which, as we witnessed earlier this month, included pushing children seeking safety back into the Rio Grande River, denying families water in the deadly heat, and forcing children and pregnant people to crawl through razor wire, enduring severe lacerations, miscarriages, and other injuries,” said
Olivia Pena, Co-Director of the Child Advocate Program at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. “These cruelties must end. The Biden Administration should immediately take action to end Operation Lone Star. Children deserve safety. They deserve to be with their families. And they have a right to seek safety. Every day the Biden administration’s unlawful asylum ban remains intact is a day that children and families continue to be put in devastating situations like the ones here in Texas. It’s far past time for the Biden administration to restore safe and fair access to asylum for all.” 

“We are deeply disturbed and saddened by recent reports that families have been separated by Texas authorities at the border. This is the latest in a series of inhumane deterrence tactics utilized by Texas state officials against families seeking safety, including installing razor wire barriers and pushing migrants back into the river. Most migrants, particularly women and girls, as well as LGBTQI+ folks, already experience violence and trauma on their journey to the border to find safety – it is heartbreaking that they are facing further trauma and violence at the hands of U.S. and Texas border agents,” said
Katharina Dechert, Houston Policy and Advocacy Manager at the Tahirih Justice Center. “We urge Governor Abbott to end these cruel practices and ask the federal government to quickly reunite separated families and avoid unnecessary delays in its investigation into Operation Lone Star.” 

“With each week we seem to be reaching new heights of inhumanity. This week’s accounts about the separation of families at the U.S.-Texas border comes on the heels of last week’s reports that Texas Governor Greg Abbott had instructed State Troopers to push migrants – including children and babies –  back into the Rio Grande. These tactics are horrifying and cruel – a total abandonment of everything that should define American values of welcome and inclusion. We urge the Biden administration to intervene immediately and put a halt to these deeply harmful policies. This level of hate and prejudice must never be tolerated,” said
Nili Sarit Yossinger, Executive Director of Refugee Congress. 

“HIAS is alarmed by the reports that Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers are separating families at the U.S. southern border,” said
HIAS Policy Counsel, Vanessa Dojaquez-Torres. “It is a cruel and ineffective deterrence policy, and one that should not even be considered again. This follows the increasingly cruel and lethal tactics used by Governor Abbott that are targeting children and families who are trying to find safety. These approaches are beyond the pale and must be stopped immediately. HIAS calls on the Department of Justice to immediately investigate Operation Lone Star and the Texas DPS’s overreach into federal immigration enforcement authority.”

“We are appalled and deeply disturbed by the reports of families being separated at the Texas border,” said
Ann Garcia, staff attorney at the National Immigration Project. “Governor Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star program has been targeting and terrorizing migrants and people of color for years, and in recent weeks, we’ve witnessed an alarming escalation of cruel and inhumane tactics being utilized as part of the program. The federal government cannot stand idly by as these human rights abuses continue to escalate. We urge the Biden administration to intervene immediately to reunite these families, stop more families from being torn apart, and put an end to these horrific human and civil rights abuses.”

“President Biden loves to say, ‘It’s not who we are as a nation!’ But when it comes to family separation, it’s exactly who we are. Family separation is a crime against humanity with deep roots in our national story dating back to slavery and the Native American genocide. It is time to hack the narrative, Mr. President, to finally change the course of history and keep it from repeating itself. You can’t claim that the US is a ‘Beacon of Hope,’ then look aside as crimes of this magnitude are committed against people seeking safety. It may be Greg Abbott giving the orders to separate and incarcerate and deliberately maim. But until you stop him and his deputized band of lawless vigilantes, YOU ARE GUILTY TOO! Family separation is torture, a tool of ‘prevention through deterrence’ – itself a life-destroying, epic, three-decade failure – that has gone way beyond the pale. Basta!” said
Sarah Towle, Leadership Team, Witness at the Border.



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