• Press Release

Amnesty International Urges the Biden Administration to End the Asylum Ban and Investigate Operation Lonestar

August 3, 2023

A migrant family watches the sunset while waiting to be accounted for and taken to a border patrol processing facility after crossing the Rio Grande into the U.S. on June 21, 2021 in La Joya, Texas. A surge of mostly Central American immigrants crossing into the United States has challenged U.S. immigration agencies along the U.S. Southern border.
(Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Responding to reports of family separation and more deaths – including the death of a child – at the buoys in the Rio Grande River as part of Texas Governor Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, Amy Fischer, Director of Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International USA, said:

“Governor Abbott’s spectacularly cruel Operation Lonestar (OLS) will continue to result in loss of life, family separation, and other violations of human rights as long as it exists. OLS is callous at its core, with a clear aim to cause lasting harm to vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers at any cost. It must be abolished immediately.”

“Just weeks ago, Amnesty International USA warned that border barriers only serve to push people to take more dangerous routes to exercise their human right to seek asylum. We called upon Governor Abbott to immediately remove any barriers, including buoys, from the border. Today two more people died desperately trying to seek asylum and safety with barriers before them that may have contributed to their deaths, that violate human rights, and that are undeniably preventable.”

“Amnesty International USA also strongly condemns family separation as the newest tactic of Governor Abbott’s Operation Lone Star. Ripping children from a parent’s arms in order to criminally prosecute a parent is an abhorrent practice that will cause severe mental suffering for these families. This devastating practice meets the definition of torture under both U.S. and international law and it must immediately come to an end.”

“It is unconscionable for the Biden Administration to stay silent while the Texas Governor embraces cruel policies that then-candidate Biden campaigned against. In fact, it is Biden’s cruel asylum ban that forces people seeking safety to wait for an appointment via the CBP One mobile application in a humanitarian crisis on the Mexican side of the border or take the dangerous trip to cross the border at dangerous river crossings. Amnesty International USA calls upon the Biden Administration to immediately end the asylum ban and restore access to asylum at the border, and for the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the cruel and unlawful practices of Operation Lonestar.”

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