The federal government won’t secure the border — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t governors who are picking up the slack.
Take Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The Republican’s Operation Lone Star has been running for seven months now to combat the border crisis. According to USA Today, hundreds of state troopers, Texas Rangers, National Guard soldiers and other authorities have backed up the Border Patrol, arresting more than 4,600 border crossers as of late August.
That might not compare to the hundreds of thousands of border crossings during the crisis brought on by President Joe Biden, but it’s an example for the rest of the country — an example illegal immigrant activists are furious about.
“The crisis at our southern border continues to escalate because of Biden Administration policies that refuse to secure the border and invite illegal immigration,” Abbott said a statement in March, while launching the operation, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
“Texas supports legal immigration but will not be an accomplice to the open border policies that cause, rather than prevent, a humanitarian crisis in our state and endanger the lives of Texans. We will surge the resources and law enforcement personnel needed to confront this crisis.”
Texas National Guard Soldiers identify & apprehend illegal immigrants on land and in water crossing into Texas from Mexico.
Through Operation Lone Star, the State of Texas is working night and day to combat Biden’s border crisis & secure our border. pic.twitter.com/3wa6bgDsQQ
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) September 29, 2021
Texas National Guard Soldiers deploy tactical vehicles to the border in support of Operation Lone Star.
As Biden does nothing, the Lone Star State continues to surge manpower & equipment to put an end to the chaos at our southern border. pic.twitter.com/IrDH8fN3AO
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) September 23, 2021
Granted, the program has seen some pushback from left-wing activist groups who have hoped to challenge the legality of Operation Lone Star in court. They say since the Constitution delegates immigration enforcement to the federal government, the plan is unconstitutional. Critics have also charged the plan leads to racial profiling.
“Whenever you ask untrained law enforcement officers to engage in immigration enforcement efforts, they are going to revert to racial profiling,” said Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “That’s exactly what an initiative like this invites.”
The program has also faced problems in court.
On Tuesday, charges of criminal trespassing against two illegal immigrants arrested as part of Project Lone Star, Ivan Nava and David Muñoz, were dismissed by a Texas district court judge because prosecutors were “unprepared to present probable cause,” USA Today reported. Both men remained in custody as of late last week, however, and immigration activist groups were concerned the two could still be deported.
Both had crossed into the U.S. illegally in June, according to USA Today. (In USA Today terminology, they “crossed without permission.”)
“Operation Lone Star relies on racial profiling and systemically violates due process,” Kevin Herrera, the men’s attorney, said in a statement, according to USA Today.
He wanted President Joe Biden’s administration to allow the men to stay in the United States pending a hearing on their immigration case — and more: “We demand … that [Department of Homeland Security] cease any collaboration with this unconstitutional program.”
The same day the charges against Nava and Munoz were dismissed, the same judge ordered 243 more illegal aliens arrested under Operation Lone Star to be released under “no-cost bonds,” USA Today reported.
However, proponents of border security contend programs like Operation Lone Star could be a blueprint for other governors to enforce border laws when the federal government is unable or unwilling to do so.
Jessica Vaughn of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors tighter controls on immigration, said Operation Lone Star mostly picks up illegal immigrants who want to sneak past Border Patrol and who aren’t turning themselves in to seek asylum.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out,” Vaughn told USA Today. “We could end up with a blueprint from the courts on exactly what can be done by states to address illegal immigration.”
Whatever the case, it gives a whole new meaning to “don’t mess with Texas.” And if any actor is going to address illegal immigration, it’ll have to be in state governments for now — especially since last month’s crisis involving an encampment of Haitian migrants that swelled to over 15,000 individuals at Del Rio, Texas proved how quickly the Biden administration will capitulate on border security when faced with the slightest breeze of opposition from the left wing of the Democratic Party.
After footage showed Border Patrol agents using horses to prevent Haitian migrants from entering the United States via the Rio Grande — with some lawmakers and social media pundits erroneously stating they were using whips or lassos — administration officials quickly condemned the agents, foreswore the use of horses at the border and promised an investigation that could lead to the agents’ termination.
Abbott responded by telling Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace on Sept. 26 that the Biden administration was “in dereliction of duty” because they have “abandoned any pretense of securing the sovereignty of either Texas or the United States by having these open border policies.”
Abbott on Biden’s investigation into Border Patrol agents: “I want them to know something. If they are risk of losing their job by a president who is abandoning his duty to secure the border, you have a job in the state of Texas. I will hire you to help Texas secure our border.” pic.twitter.com/gzVtv5iKgt
— Jason Rantz on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) September 26, 2021
For instance, Abbott said, the crisis at the Del Rio flashpoint was brought under control only after Texas surged state troopers to the area, with hundreds of vehicles creating a “steel barrier” aimed at keeping out illegal immigrants.
“That’s exactly what the Biden administration could do if they wanted to,” Abbott said. “But, Chris, it’s the kind of thing that Texas is going to have to continue to do in addition to the other policies that you did not announce and that is, as opposed to catch and release, Texas has imposed a policy where we are going to arrest and jail people who come across the border for trespassing into areas into the state of Texas.”
The Biden administration has made it clear it won’t enforce immigration law at the southern border. In fact, it’s more likely to come down hard on Border Patrol agents who were trying to enforce the law — which is why Gov. Abbott has an offer for anyone who suffers the consequences for simply doing their job.
“I have worked side by side with those Border Patrol agents,” Abbott said. “I want them to know something, if they are at risk of losing their job, got a president who is abandoning his duty to secure the border, you have a job in the state of Texas. I will hire you to help Texas secure our border.”
Why not? After all, I’m assuming those who joined the Border Patrol did so to enforce the law.
If they lost their job for doing it at the federal level, they could always get a job doing it for the state that has the longest border with Mexico.
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