Governor Abbott, DPS, Texas National Guard Mark One Year Anniversary Of Operation Lone Star
Austin, TX (STL.News) Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and the Texas National Guard today mark the one-year anniversary of Operation Lone Star (OLS)?—an unprecedented, comprehensive mission to address the Biden-made crisis at Texas’ southern border. Officially launched on March 4, 2021, OLS integrates DPS assets, including Texas Highway Patrol Troopers, Special Agents, Texas Rangers, Rotary and Fixed Winged Aircraft and Tactical Boat Teams, along with the Texas National Guard and local law enforcement to secure the border.
Since the launch of OLS, multi-agency efforts have led to more than 208,000 migrant apprehensions, along with more than 11,800 charges for criminal offenses— including more than 9,300 felony charges. Members of notorious gangs like the Texas Chicano Brotherhood, Bloods, Mexican Mafia, MS-13, and others have been taken off the streets. DPS has arrested sex offenders, weapons traffickers, previously convicted and deported criminal immigrants, drug dealers, and other wanted criminals. In the fight against fentanyl, DPS has seized over 269 million lethal doses throughout the state.
Governor Abbott released a video to commemorate the achievements of the mission, Texas law enforcement, and soldiers.
“We launched Operation Lone Star to do the job that Washington would not,” said Governor Abbott. “Within weeks of taking office, President Biden turned our southern border into a porous mess where criminal aliens wandered across the Rio Grande River without anyone to interdict them. I refused to stand by and let our state be overrun by criminals and deadly drugs like fentanyl. Texans have never backed down from a challenge, and we won’t start now, because our efforts are stemming the tide of illegal drugs and criminals flooding into Texas. Thank you to the many men and women who are protecting our southern border, including the DPS troopers, Texas National Guardsmen, Texas sheriffs, and all the law enforcement officers who serve and protect us every day.”
“I thank Governor Abbott for his tremendous leadership in protecting the people of Texas by working to secure our southern border,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “One year into this mission, DPS has arrested thousands of dangerous criminals, apprehended tens of thousands of illegal immigrants, and seized dangerous contraband. Let it be very clear – an unsecured international border with Mexico is the most significant threat to the state of Texas.”
“The Texas National Guard soldiers and airmen are proud to stand alongside DPS and other agencies in protecting the people and property of Texas,” said Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, the Adjutant General of Texas. “We continue to construct fencing and barriers, turn back and apprehend migrants, and do the job we were sent here to do?—we are Texans serving Texas.”
Since the initial launch of Operation Lone Star in March 2021, the Governor, DPS, and the Texas National Guard have increased the comprehensive efforts of the mission.
On March 17, 2021, Governor Abbott expanded OLS to include efforts to crack down on human trafficking and illegal border crossings. State agencies were directed to work with local law enforcement, communities and private landowners to prevent, detect, and interdict transnational criminal activity flowing between the ports of entry.
On May 31, 2021, Governor Abbott issued a disaster declaration for counties along Texas’ southern border to free up additional resources to help address the epicenter of the crisis. The Governor’s disaster declaration also directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission not to provide state licensing for the federal government’s program of housing unaccompanied alien children.
On June 10, 2021, Governor Abbott held a Border Security Summit in Del Rio with leaders from DPS, the Texas National Guard, and the Texas Division of Emergency Management. The summit brought together Texas sheriffs, police chiefs, county judges, mayors, district attorneys, and landowners to hear from state officials on the actions that the State of Texas is taking to secure the southern border and address the ongoing humanitarian crisis. The Governor invoked the Emergency Management Assistance Compact with the State of Arizona during the summit. Under this interstate compact, Governor Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey continue to ask other states to send law enforcement officials to assist them in making arrests.
The Governor also announced that DPS, with the assistance of the Texas National Guard, would begin arresting individuals trespassing on private property. In July, Governor Abbott opened the first jail booking facility of its kind in the state in Val Verde County. At the facility, individuals who are arrested for committing border-related crimes in the surrounding region are booked and magistrated, then transferred to the Briscoe or Segovia TDCJ Unit. Governor Abbott launched a second jail booking facility in Jim Hogg County in February 2022.
In June 2021, Governor Abbott announced plans to construct a border wall in Texas. Just six months later, the Governor debuted the construction of the Texas border wall in Rio Grande City. The Governor also directed the Texas National Guard to begin construction on a temporary border barrier. To date, the Texas National Guard has constructed more than eight miles of fencing and has secured signed agreements for an additional 62 miles. Additionally, the State of Texas recently acquired 1,700 unused 32-foot-tall panels that will be used for the border wall. These panels were originally intended for President Trump’s border wall, but President Biden halted construction once he took office.
In July 2021, Governor Abbott issued an Executive Order restricting ground transportation of migrants who pose a risk of carrying COVID-19 into Texas communities.
In September 2021, Governor Abbott announced the availability of $100 million in grant funding for local governments through the OLS Grant Program to enhance interagency border security operations supporting OLS, including the facilitation of directed actions to deter and interdict criminal activity and detain non-citizens arrested for state crimes related to the border crisis.
That same month, Governor Abbott signed House Bill 9 into law, which provides an additional $1.8 billion in state funding for border security over the next two years, leading to nearly $3 billion in funding being allocated to border security in Texas.
Operation Lone Star was crucial to addressing the Haitian migrant crisis that occurred in Del Rio last September. A massive surge of migrants began gathering at the International Bridge in Del Rio with about 7,000 arriving in a single day. In the two days that followed, that number nearly doubled to about 13,500 migrants, mostly from Haiti. Governor Abbott ordered DPS and the Texas National Guard to mobilize additional resources including roughly 1,000 DPS personnel in the area and some 650 DPS vehicles were put into place to form a steel barrier of protection. The surge included approximately 400 additional Texas National Guard soldiers and 40 Humvees, to assist in deterring criminal activity, flanking the area and keeping the region secure.
Additional actions to secure the border by Governor Abbott include:
• Signing a law to make it easier to prosecute smugglers bringing people into Texas
• Signing 15 laws cracking down on human trafficking in Texas
• Signing a law enhancing penalties for the manufacturing and distribution of fentanyl
• Taking legal action to enforce the Remain in Mexico and Title 42 policies in Texas