By Tom Ozimek
Texas’ efforts to stop the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and people into the United States under Operation Lone Star have borne fruit, according to data provided by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who pledged to continue deploying “every strategy” available to respond to the border crisis.
Operation Lone Star was launched in March 2021 in response to a surge in illegal immigration, as a combined effort of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Texas National Guard. The operation deployed air, ground, marine, and tactical border security assets to high-threat areas along the border in a bid to deny Mexican cartels and other smugglers the smuggled people, weapons, and drugs into the country.
A little over two years since the launch of the border security initiative, Mr. Abbott on Friday provided the latest figures that hint at the effort bearing fruit—while blaming President Joe Biden’s policies for the dire situation at the border.
“President Biden’s open border policies created the humanitarian crisis at our southern border,” Mr. Abbott said in a post on Twitter.
“Texas will continue to deploy every strategy to respond to this crisis,” he added.
Operation Lone Star Arrests and Seizures
The data Mr. Abbott disclosed show that the multi-agency effort has led to over 394,200 illegal immigrant apprehensions and more than 31,300 criminal arrests, with reports of over 29,100 felony charges brought.
In the fight against deadly drugs pouring into the United States, Texas law enforcement has seized over 422 million lethal doses of fentanyl during this border mission.
Texas has also bused nearly 30,000 illegal immigrants to a number of Democrat-led cities, both as a wake-up call to Washington and a way of fighting back against what Texas officials have said are the Biden administration’s lax border policies.
To date, Texas has bused over 10,400 illegal immigrants to Washington, D.C. and over 10,300 to New York City since Operation Lone Star was launched.
In September 2022, when the migrant buses from the Lone Star state first grabbed headlines, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said his state was spending around $4 billion a year on border security, while normally it spends around $400 million.
“This is a financial burden on us. But more importantly, it’s an invasion of our state,” Patrick told Fox News in an interview that aired Sept. 17, 2022.
“They’ve been dumping people in America for a long time, a long time,” he said “And now Texas is saying, we’re fighting back. We’re going to send them to your neighborhood, and we’re going to keep those buses coming until, finally, this administration wakes up.”
Republicans have blamed the Biden administration for policies they say encourage people to undertake the perilous trek north and cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.
The Biden administration has blamed factors outside its control—like crime, corruption, and poverty in countries of origin—while blaming former President Donald Trump for undermining the country’s asylum system, which the current administration says it’s trying to fix.
‘Fill the Dangerous Gaps’
Texas is one of the states most impacted by illegal immigration, as much of the migrant flow comes across its border with Mexico. Mr. Abbott has repeatedly blamed Mr. Biden for failing to adequately address the border crisis.
“Operation Lone Star continues to fill the dangerous gaps created by the Biden Administration’s refusal to secure the border,” Mr. Abbott said in a statement on July 21.
“Every individual who is apprehended or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and the nation due to President Joe Biden’s open border policies,” he added.
Floating Barrier Sparks Controversy
Mr. Abbott’s latest efforts to bolster border security involved the deployment of floating barriers set up in the middle of the Rio Grand to deter illegal immigrants from crossing.
“New marine barrier installation on the Rio Grande begins today,” Mr. Abbott stated on Twitter last Saturday, along with a 15-second video showing dozens of large spherical buoys being loaded into tractor-trailers.
“More to come,” the governor remarked, suggesting more future deployments of measures meant to curb illegal immigration flows.
DPS has been tasked with overseeing the deployment of the 1,000-foot floating barrier, which has been estimated to cost around $1 million.
However, the Biden administration has taken a dim view of the barrier, saying it threatens to impede federal law enforcement and poses “serious risks” to the environment and public safety.
DOJ told Mr. Abbott in a July 20 letter obtained by The Epoch Times that the agency intends to take legal action to force the dismantling of what it called an “unlawful” floating barrier at Eagle Pass, a major point of illegal border crossings.
“Texas’s unauthorized construction of the floating barrier is a prima facie violation of the Rivers and Harbors Act. This floating barrier poses a risk to navigation, as well as public safety, in the Rio Grande River, and it presents humanitarian concerns,” wrote Todd Kim, an assistant attorney general, and Jaime Esparza, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas.
In the letter, Biden administration officials gave Texas an opportunity to hold talks with the Biden administration to prevent legal action.
Mr. Abbott, however, has signaled that he remains undeterred in the face of the lawsuit threat.
“We will continue to deploy every strategy to protect Texans and Americans—and the migrants risking their lives,” he wrote in a series of posts on Twitter.
“We will see you in court, Mr. President,” he added.