Texas Department of Public Safety officers have arrested more than 1,000 migrants since July on accusations of criminal trespassing. Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

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More than two dozen Democratic members of Congress called on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. attorney general to investigate legal problems that have arisen out of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security initiative to arrest and jail migrants on state criminal charges.

The letter, penned by 26 Democrats in Texas and across the country, asks the federal government to investigate whether Abbott’s “catch and jail” immigration policy violates the U.S. Constitution, citing the violations of state law and logistical problems that have arisen from more than 1,000 trespassing arrests, as reported by The Texas Tribune.

Since July, Abbott has directed Texas state police to arrest migrants suspected of having crossed the border illegally on state criminal charges in response to a rise in border crossings. Almost all of the arrests have been for allegedly trespassing on private property in Val Verde and Kinney counties. After the arrests began, local judicial systems quickly became overwhelmed and fell behind state deadlines while hundreds of migrants remained imprisoned, sometimes for weeks without even being appointed an attorney.

“These operations have continued to militarize Texas’ border communities and interfered with the federal immigration system, likely violating the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution,” the members wrote. “Even more egregiously, these programs have directly led to a violation of state laws and constitutional due process rights.”

The letter was signed by Texas Democrats Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, Veronica Escobar of El Paso, Filemon Vela of Brownsville, Sylvia Garcia of Houston, Colin Allred of Dallas and Lloyd Doggett of Austin. It was also signed by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, and 19 other Democrats.

This story will be updated.

The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is the only member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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