EAGLE PASS, Texas (Border Report) – Calling it a financial failure and threat to the lives of asylum-seekers, a coalition of border groups on Tuesday renewed their demands for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to end Operation Lone Star.
The state has spent $4.5 billion in the past two years to deploy Department of Public Safety troopers and the Texas Army National Guard to the Texas-Mexico border. The state also has placed razor wire, and empty shipping containers on the north side of the Rio Grande and recently deployed a 1,000-foot-long string of buoys south of Eagle Pass.
The state has earmarked an additional $5 billion to continue the anti-illegal immigration op for another two years.
“It’s wasted money. What could they spend the money on besides this political stunt that Abbott is carrying out here?” said Juanita Martinez, a member of the board of directors of the Eagle Pass Border Coalition. “Eagle Pass is a beautiful town. We are not under attack by immigrants, we are not in danger. We are fine. We want Abbott out of here. We want the concertina wire to be gone.”
Grievances were aired at Shelby Park, a few feet from where the state is storing spare buoys, patrol boats and more than a dozen government vehicles and assorted gear. It was the first public event at the park since the city decided against designating it as private land so state officials could have free reign there.
Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights, said Operation Lone Star is not only a symbol of hate against migrants fleeing poverty or persecution but is also killing and injuring people. He cited drownings in areas where the operation is ongoing, and a Saturday incident in which a Texas state guardsman allegedly shot a Mexican man across the Rio Grande.
“We are calling on the State Department to launch a criminal investigation not only of that incident, but also multiple incidents under Operation Lone Star,” Garcia said. “The buoys at Eagle Pass are part of that campaign of violence against our immigrant communities. I am glad the people of Eagle Pass are resisting.”
Grassroots activists from El Paso to Brownsville, Texas, joined Martinez and Garcia in calling for the termination of Operation Lone Star and said their communities don’t support it.
Abbott last week took a handful of Republican governors to the border and said Operation Lone Star is working. His office said it has led to more than 420,000 apprehensions of undocumented migrants, 33,600 criminal arrests and 30,500 felony charges filed.
“Operation Lone Star continues to fill the dangerous gaps created by the Biden administration’s refusal to secure the border,” the governor said. “Every individual who is apprehended or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have otherwise made their way to communities across Texas and the nation.”
Migrant encounters at the Southwest border again rose in July and have remained steady in the Del Rio sector of the U.S. Border Patrol, which includes Eagle Pass, CBP data shows.
The activists say they will continue to dispel misconceptions about the U.S.-Mexico border and called for a public gathering at Shelby Park on Labor Day to remember migrants who died en route to the U.S.