The crisis on the U.S. southern border is showing no signs of slowing down, and the Biden administration has obviously decided not to enforce immigration law. Gov. Greg Abbott has, in a sense, taken the law into his own hands.
In March, Abbot started Operation Lone Star. It is comprised of state troopers, Texas Rangers, National Guard soldiers and others who have joined in to assist Border Patrol officers in the apprehension of illegal immigrants crossing the border into the U.S. As of late last month, there have been more than 4,600 arrests.
Last week, as a surge of mostly Haitian immigrants swept into the border town of Del Rio, a massive migrant camp of roughly 15,000 refugees sprang up underneath the Del Rio international bridge. Gov. Abbott allocated an additional $100 million to enhance the Operation Lone Star program.
During a news conference near Del Rio, Abbott stated,
“We are arresting and jailing anybody who comes across the border illegally and trespasses on private property or on public lands. It’s not the Biden administration’s catch and release policy. It’s the arrest and jail policy sending a message to these folks and anybody thinking about coming here, you may end up with handcuffs on your hands and go straight to jail.”
The $100 million grant funding is part of a new initiative by the Texas Legislature that will go towards funding more border security. Texas taxpayers are picking up the more than $1.8 billion total tab.
The grant money has also been made available to local governments for the use of a wide range of law enforcement needs including arrests, and prosecution of those who have come into the country illegally and have committed other crimes.
The program has since been expanded to include construction of fences and border barriers. In addition, the state has said it would be raising money to construct a border wall.
Of course, Operation Lone Star is getting push back from left wing immigration activist groups. Some have argued that the program is unconstitutional because the Constitution delegates immigration to the federal government, rather than the state government. Other critics say it will encourage racial profiling.
Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said, “Whenever you ask untrained law enforcement officers to engage in immigration enforcement efforts, they are going to revert to racial profiling. That’s exactly what an initiative like this invites.”
Legal problems with the program also extend into the courtroom. Last week, criminal trespassing charges against two illegal immigrants who were arrested as part of the program were dismissed by a Texas district court judge on grounds that prosecutors were, “unable to present probable cause.” However, both men remained in custody and immigration activists were anxious they might still be deported.
The same judge has also ordered the release of 243 more illegal immigrants who were arrested under Operation Lone Star to be released due to “no-cost bonds.”
However, border security proponents say Operation Lone Star may act as a model for other governors who are tired of the federal government’s inability or unwillingness to enforce border laws.
Jessica Vaughn of the Center for Immigration Studies says that Operation Lone Star mainly apprehends those who are attempting to get past Border Patrol and are not seeking asylum.
She added, “It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out. We could end up with a blueprint from the courts on exactly what can be done by states to address illegal immigration.”
During a recent appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Fox News Sunday,” Gov. Abbott had some blunt assessments of the Biden administration’s job of securing the southern border.
Abbott said to host Chris Wallace that, “Secretary Mayorkas and, if I can be candid, even President Biden, they are in dereliction of duty.”
“The Biden administration has abandoned any pretense of securing the sovereignty of either Texas or the United States by having these open border policies. The people in south Texas, they are angry about the Biden administration for ignoring, for abandoning them. The Biden administration cares far more for the people who are not in this country than he does for the people, American citizens who live in this country.”
Abbott went on to discuss the two Border Patrol agents on horseback who were recently accused by some media outlets and the president of “whipping” Haitian immigrants. Biden spoke of the ongoing investigation into the incident, and vowed that the agents would “pay” for their actions.
It was later clarified that the agents were using long reins to control the horses. Abbott has offered to hire the agents in question if they are fired by the government from the Border Patrol.
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