Thursday 27 July 2023

Operation Lone Star fails to curb ILLEGAL CROSSINGS despite $9.5B funding

 Texas' Operation Lone Star (OLS), a state-led initiative to deter illegal migration at the U.S.-Mexico border, has failed to curb illegal crossings. This is despite a $9.5 billion war chest and border security tools such as razor wire, shipping container barricades and aerial surveillance.

Launched in the summer of 2021 amid a surge of border crossings, OLS sought to arrest migrants on low-level state charges in an attempt to discourage illegal immigration. Although Texas lacks the authority to enforce federal immigration law, it is lodging misdemeanor charges against people who crossed private properties along the border.

Prior to OLS, counties in the Rio Grande Valley experienced the highest increase in illegal crossings, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Surprisingly, these counties chose not to declare a state of disaster and did not participate in the trespassing arrest operation under OLS.

In contrast, the Del Rio sector that lies in the middle of Texas' 1,254-mile border with Mexico was less accustomed to large migrant crossing. OLS directed substantial resources to this region. Troopers were stationed every few miles on highways, expansive base camps were set up and arrests were made for misdemeanor trespassing.

Despite this, OLS failed to deter illegal crossings in three counties – Kinney, Val Verde and Maverick – where more than 83 percent of arrests were made. USBP data indicated that illegal crossings rose faster in the counties most heavily targeted by Operation Lone Star and have been slower to decline since peaking in the previous year. Conversely, the Rio Grande Valley, which was not a focus of the operation, saw a decline of 35 percent in border crossings from the previous year.

Official figures state that arrests made by OLS personnel constitute merely one percent of the total encounters recorded by the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) in the same time frame. OLS made about 11,000 additional arrests, adding to the USBP's 850,000 apprehensions.  

OLS ineffective in addressing core issue of border security and immigration

Established to enhance border security, OLS has served as a challenge to the federal government's authority over international borders and immigration enforcement. It has also sparked outrage and concern over reports of inhumane treatment of migrants.

The Wall Street Journal received a July 3 email written by a trooper and medic involved in the operation. The email detailed instances of grave misconduct – including pushing a nursing mother back into the river, denying water to migrants in extreme heat and blocking a four-year-old child attempting to cross coils of razor wire.

The trooper's email also recounted several tragic incidents. In one instance, a pregnant woman entangled in the razor wire erected as part of OLS later suffered a miscarriage. Numerous other illegal aliens suffered severe lacerations while attempting to cross the border.

Adding insult to injury were reports suggesting that thousands of arrests made by state troopers under OLS were unrelated to border security. Moreover, the arrests of migrants trespassing on private property have been found to have minimal impact on their immigration cases.

These controversies have led to questions about the initiative's overall effectiveness in addressing the core issue of border security and immigration.

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