Operation Lone Star Makes a Dent at the Texas Border
During the 18 months of Texas’ Operation Lone Star, the state has seen a 6.9 percent increase in monthly migrant encounters at the border. That’s not great, but it’s at least better than New Mexico, Arizona and California, where encounters skyrocketed 30-47 percent over the same period.
Since Texas border traffic is the heaviest in the nation, the raw number increases in other states remain well short of its massive monthly volumes. Nevertheless, Lone Star is having some salutary impact.
By surging National Guard troops and Department of Public Safety officers to the border, Operation Lone Star has netted 334,000 migrant apprehensions and 19,000 criminal arrests, with 17,400 of those involving felony charges.
Many of Texas’ felony prosecutions are related to the booming importation and trafficking of fentanyl. State law enforcement agencies are busting plenty of other serious offenders, too.
More than 379,000 criminal aliens have been booked into local Texas jails between June 1, 2011, and Aug. 31, 2022. Of those, 261,000 were classified as illegal aliens by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Those 261,000 were charged with some 434,000 criminal offenses, including 800 homicides.
Drug offenders remain, by far, the largest cohort of criminal alien felons, though conviction rates are actually higher in cases involving robbery, burglary, sexual assault and homicide. Human trafficking arrests are also on the rise.
“As prolific as (Operation Lone Star’s) results have been,” Gov. Greg Abbott acknowledges, “It is clear that more is needed.”
Last week, Texas officials awarded two contracts worth $307 million to build nearly 14 miles of barriers along the southern border, with more to come. Meantime, the state continues to bus illegal aliens north. So far, some 8,900 have been transported at a cost of $12.7 million.
With Operation Lone Star’s $4 billion budget, Texas taxpayers are shouldering an unprecedented financial burden. Abbott says his state has no choice because federal agencies aren’t doing their job. Indeed, the Biden administration’s feckless and reckless policies merely invite more migrants to come.
The Texas Military Department, which directs the state’s National Guard units, recently reported that 9,000 illegal aliens detained by troops have been returned to Mexico. This, of course, is a drop in the bucket when border encounters are exceeding 100,000 per month. And since states have no authority to conduct their own removals, and must defer to a politically straitjacketed U.S. Border Patrol, Operation Lone Star’s best efforts will fall short – no matter how many billions of dollars Texans shell out.