(The Center Square) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday the state will allocate an additional $100 million to enhance Operation Lone Star border security operations as a surge in illegal immigration and other criminal activities overwhelm Texas communities.
Abbott made the announcement at a news conference in Del Rio, Texas, where tens of thousands of immigrants who entered the country illegally have gathered.
“We are arresting and jailing anybody who comes across the border illegally and trespasses on private property or on public lands,” Abbot said. “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.”
Over the past week, the border town of roughly 30,000 has been inundated with law enforcement descending into the area to provide additional security after nearly 15,000 mostly Haitians illegally congregated under the Del Rio International Bridge.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 29,000 Haitians have arrived in the U.S. in the past 11 months.
Abbott said the $100 million in additional grant funding for Operation Lone Star will be used to deter and fight criminal activity stemming from illegal immigration. The money comes from new funding allocated by the legislature toward border security efforts paid for by Texas taxpayers in excess of $1.8 billion.
The grant money is available to local governments involved in a range of law enforcement efforts, from arresting to prosecuting those who crossed the border illegally and committed other crimes, and to providing medical and other services as needed.
The money comes from HB 9, which the legislature passed in its second special legislative session and the governor signed into law on Friday. The funding will support local law enforcement, jail administrators, medical examiners, and court administration officials.
It will help expand capacity for detention operations, support county medical examiner offices, increase capacity and expediency in the magistration and criminal trials of defendants, and increase capacity to provide indigent defense.
Applicants for new positions being created are encouraged to apply through the governor’s Public Safety Office. The office can also be reached through email and phone: firstname.lastname@example.org; 512-463-1919.
Operation Lone Star was launched in March to provide additional resources to law enforcement to combat the smuggling of people and drugs into Texas as a result of the Biden administration’s open border policies. There are currently thousands of state personnel, including DPS troopers, agents, rangers and National Guard soldiers working on the operation and with local law enforcement. The mission was expanded shortly after its launch to include anti-human trafficking efforts.
Months later, the operation was expanded to include constructing fencing and border barriers and the announcement that Texas was raising money to build its own border wall. The state also announced it had hired a new project manager to oversee the design and construction of a border wall.
Abbot also recently requested that the Biden administration declare a federal disaster in Vale Verde County to enable federal funds to go toward border security efforts.
“The federal government’s failure to enforce immigration laws and to halt illegal crossings on a dam on federal property, which is the sole jurisdiction of the federal government, is leading to substantial burdens on local and state resources,” Abbott wrote in the request.
“Border security is a federal responsibility,” Abbott added. “However, in response to the current situation,” he said he issued a state disaster declaration May 31. The additional request for Val Verde was in response to “the surge of illegal immigration [that] poses life-threatening risks to residents of Val Verde County and is quickly overrunning law enforcement and health care and humanitarian resources, which were never intended to be used in this capacity,” Abbott said. “Even the limited federal resources in the area are strained by the large number of individuals illegally crossing into Texas. I have determined that the disaster caused from individuals unlawfully crossing the Texas-Mexico border is of such severity that supplementary federal assistance is necessary to lessen the threat of disaster, save lies, and protect property, public health an safety.”