Tue, Jan 24, 2023 2:01 PM
By Bethany Blankley, The Center Square
President Joe Biden hasn’t responded to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's numerous requests for help at the southern border, the Republican governor says.
During Biden’s first visit to the border in El Paso earlier this month, Abbott provided the president a list of five solutions he says will help secure the border. Abbott hasn’t received a response, he said, to what he considers a solvable problem that entails enforcing existing laws established by Congress.
In response to Biden administration policies instructing Border Patrol agents to release illegal foreign nationals into the U.S., the majority of whom are being released in Texas, Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in March 2021. Since then, law enforcement officers have apprehended more than 343,000 people from over 150 countries and made more than 23,000 criminal arrests with over 21,000 felony charges reported, as of Jan. 20, 2023, the governor’s office reported.
“Operation Lone Star continues to fill the dangerous gaps left by the Biden Administration's refusal to secure the border,” Abbott said. “Every individual who is apprehended or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and the nation due to President Biden's open border policies.”
Apprehending human smugglers is a daily occurrence as sheriffs and Department of Public Safety troopers identify foreign nationals and U.S. citizens responding to lucrative ads on social media offering to pay them to pick up people at drop off points along major highways and back roads in rural Texas, law enforcement officers told The Center Square.
In one recent stop, DPS troopers pulled over a truck towing a car hauler in the border county of Uvalde. Hiding inside the towed vehicles were 15 illegal foreign nationals. The driver, from Houston, was arrested and charged with human smuggling. All 15 people hiding inside were apprehended and referred to Border Patrol.
In neighboring Kinney County, DPS troopers stopped a transit van and discovered six Mexican nationals, all single young men of military age, sitting in the cargo area. They’d been picked up at a specific location after illegally entering the U.S. The driver, also from Houston, told officers he was being paid $2,000 by the cartels to smuggle them. The driver was arrested and charged; the Mexican nationals were referred to Border Patrol.
In neighboring Val Verde County, two juvenile smugglers led DPS troopers on a high-speed pursuit. The driver pulled over to enable three illegal foreign nationals – all single young men – to bail out on the side of the road, running into the brush. Troopers pursued the driver until he and another male passenger and alleged smuggler from Del Rio also eventually bailed out and ran behind a residence. Both were arrested and charged with evading arrest and human smuggling. Law enforcement’s priority, officers have explained to The Center Square, is always to catch and arrest the human smuggler.
In another part of Val Verde County, on Highway 277, troopers pulled over a middle-aged man driving a car and repeatedly asked him, “Is there somebody in the trunk?” He shook his head and acted like he didn’t understand the question. The driver also said he didn’t have an ID. As he was handcuffed, two men inside the vehicle attempted to flee on foot. They were apprehended and charged with evading arrest.
The troopers next opened the trunk and found two male illegal foreign nationals hiding inside. They were apprehended and referred to Border Patrol. The driver was charged with human smuggling, possession of marijuana, possession of methamphetamine, and unlawful carrying of a weapon.
In Maverick County, a few counties southeast, DPS’ brush team arrested two Mexican national men of military age for criminal trespassing on a private ranch. Both had multiple illegal entries and deportations and are suspected of having gang affiliations.
In the Rio Grande Valley, in Hidalgo County, DPS troopers pursued a driver of a Nissan pickup truck through a neighborhood area in Mission. One person bailed out and was apprehended by a trooper. The driver, a Mexican national, continued to speed off towards a dead end road attempting to get to a fence where he could bail out, run through the woods and evade arrest. But the trooper, working with a tracking K-9, apprehended two miles out. He was charged with evading arrest and smuggling of persons.
Meanwhile, officers apprehended Mexican nationals, including women, who were hiding inside the truck the driver had left behind. Crammed inside the back passenger seat area and laying down in the bed of the truck were 14 people attempting to illegally enter the U.S.
In Culberson County, DPS Aviation Aircrew assisted Border Patrol agents who successfully apprehended a Mexican national trafficking narcotics. They tracked him for roughly two miles on foot, apprehended and arrested him, and seized two bundles of narcotics.
Meanwhile, in El Paso, a record number of people have been released onto the streets by the Biden administration, which has created a public health, crime and humanitarian crisis, authorities say. El Paso's Democratic mayor declared a public emergency as a result. To respond to the crisis, Abbott ordered more than 600 National Guard troops to support law enforcement partners to block entry along the border on state land and interdict transnational criminal activity.
Texas is also continuing its busing mission. As of Jan. 20, the state has bused more than 9,100 people to Washington, D.C., since last April; over 5,200 to New York City and over 1,500 to Chicago since last August; and over 890 to Philadelphia since November. All foreign nationals signed waivers and volunteered to receive taxpayer funded transportation north.