Prosecutors Stand Down as Criminal Migrants Run Roughshod Across Texas
The Texas Legislature is considering bills authorizing the state attorney general to sue local district attorneys who disregard Texas law. The measures, triggered by some DAs refusing to prosecute abortion crimes, could also be used to turn up the heat on illegal aliens who violate state laws but get a pass.
More than 50 Texas counties have declared “border disasters” due to the unending onslaught of migrants transiting through their communities. Along the way, criminally minded trespassers leave a trail of burglaries, robberies, vehicle thefts, or worse, in their wake.
But only two border jurisdictions – tiny Kinney County (population 3,130) and neighboring Val Verde County (Del Rio) – have put appreciable numbers behind bars. Kinney is the king of prosecutions, having brought hundreds of felony cases since 2021.
By contrast, larger border communities avert their eyes, or simply hand off criminal suspects to the Border Patrol for “processing” (which may or may not result in removal).
Starr County Judge Eloy Vera says that filling his jail with criminal aliens would leave no room for inmates he houses on bed contracts with the federal government. Since housing illegal aliens doesn’t “pay,” Starr prosecutors stand down.
Gov. Greg Abbott’s $4 billion Operation Lone Star (OLS) last year designated state detention centers for convicted migrants. So jail space is not an issue, especially since local prosecutions remain low. (OLS also pays for lawyers to defend criminal aliens who are indigent, which is about all of them.)
Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has repeatedly sued the Biden administration for failing to enforce immigration laws, could sue recalcitrant local prosecutors under the pending state legislation. The bills would subject non-performing DAs to fines, as well as subjecting them to removal from office.
Still, it’s unclear exactly how this legislative gambit to rein in rogue prosecutors might work. The Texas Constitution grants wide latitude to locally elected officials, including county attorneys, in the performance of their duties. In the Lone Star State, “home rule” provisions generally prevail.
Nevertheless, the rule of law demands equity. Illegal aliens who break U.S. immigration laws are a federal responsibility, just as criminal aliens who violate state and local statutes must answer to Texas authorities. County attorneys who blow off their oath to uphold the law and safeguard the public are as complicit as the reckless, feckless Biden administration.