Immigration

After Reelection, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Presses Forward with Operation Lone Star and Migrant Buses

Gov. Greg Abbott pushes forward with Operation Lone Star after reelection.
Gov. Greg Abbott pushes forward with Operation Lone Star after reelection. "Caricature: Texas Governor Greg Abbott" by DonkeyHotey is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.
If you were hoping Texas Gov. Greg Abbott would scale back his controversial border clampdown after winning reelection last Tuesday, you’re out of luck.

In a press release Friday, the Republican, who defeated challenger Beto O'Rourke to win a third term in office, boasted that Texas had sent more than 13,200 migrants to Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York City since the governor started shipping migrants to sanctuary cities.

A day earlier, Abbott took to Twitter to celebrate “the 300th bus of migrants” he’d sent north, this one to Chicago.

With the fate of the U.S. Senate and House still unclear days after the election, Abbott appears poised to continue trying to pressure President Joe Biden’s administration by pressing forward with Operation Lone Star, the state-led border crackdown.

“The busing mission is providing much-needed relief to our overwhelmed border communities,” the governor’s office said in the release, adding: “Operation Lone Star continues to fill the dangerous gaps left by the Biden Administration's refusal to secure the border.”

Since Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in March 2021, tens of thousands of Texas National Guard troops and Department of Public Safety officers have been deployed to the state’s southern border with Mexico.

As part of the operation, the governor also announced that a wall would be built along the Texas-Mexico border. As of last month, less than two miles of that wall had been built.
Abbott has boasted of having migrants arrested, state authorities handing them over to federal authorities at ports of entry and the state's National Guard and DPS supposedly deterring them from crossing at all.

Throughout the midterm election season, Abbott regularly, and inaccurately, accused Democrats, including Biden and O’Rourke, of supporting “open-border policies.”

But Operation Lone Star has attracted widespread criticism, and the Department of Justice is reportedly investigating it for potential civil rights violations.

Throughout the operation, several Texas National Guard troops have died, including some by their own hand. Others have complained of delayed and partial payments.

Last month, ProPublica and the Texas Tribune reported that the Washington, D.C., Attorney General’s Office was investigating migrant buses sent from Texas to the nation’s capital.

Rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Texas Civil Rights Project have similarly criticized the buses, describing them as “stunts” and warning that Abbott’s border crackdown could fuel anti-migrant sentiment.

Meanwhile, the number of apprehensions on the border has spiked in recent years, with people fleeing violence and poverty in many countries.

Having already spent more than $4 billion, Abbott last month announced that he was rerouting another $359 million to Operation Lone Star. Those funds were being siphoned from the state prison budget and repurposed through an "emergency" transfer.
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Patrick Strickland is the former news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's worked as a senior reporter at Al Jazeera English. His reporting has appeared in the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.

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