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Texas Has Failed to Secure Border Despite Spending Billions

Since 2005, Texas Govs. Rick Perry and Greg Abbott have persuaded the Texas legislature to spend billions of dollars on border security measures that included at least nine major operations and several smaller initiatives. Each time, the governors promised that the state would do what the federal government had failed to: secure the border, the Texas Tribune reports. In 2007, with President George W. Bush still in office but Democrats in control of Congress, Texas allocated $110 million in state funding to border security. The figure swelled to nearly $3 billion last year as Abbott criticized newly inaugurated President Biden, claiming Biden had not done enough to stop drug and human smuggling. In launching Operation Lone Star in March 2021, Abbott claimed the initiative would “combat the smuggling of people and drugs into Texas.” About four months later, the governor also directed state police and the National Guard to arrest some migrant men on criminal trespassing charges for crossing the border through private property.

An investigation by ProPublica, The Texas Tribune and The Marshall Project last month showed that the numbers the state reported to demonstrate Operation Lone Star’s success have included arrests that had nothing to do with the border or immigration and drug seizures from across the state made by troopers stationed in targeted counties prior to the operation. The way the governors and their administrations have tracked success has fluctuated over the years, offering little clarity into whether the state is closer to securing the border today than it was nearly 20 years ago. Neither the governor’s office nor the main state agency leading border security efforts, can provide a full breakdown of the state-led operations since 2005, their duration, their cost to taxpayers and their accomplishments.


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