MCALLEN, Texas — Law enforcement stationed in south Texas as part of Gov. Greg Abbott's ongoing mission to fortify the border are working to block low-water crossings, erect new fencing and train for reallocation of resources in different communities in preparation for the potential arrivals of mass migrant groups.
The initiatives were announced in a Friday news conference in McAllen, where Abbott was joined by leaders of the Texas National Guard and Department of Public Safety to discuss what they said were "threats we face in the State of Texas."
"We need to have the flexibility to move our resources to another region to block crossings," Abbott said, adding that the operation is currently focusing on Hidalgo, Maverick and Val Verde counties. “Our response is the same: We will utilize every tool and strategy we can to ensure illegal immigration will not be taking place.”
DPS Deputy Director Freeman Martin said authorities recorded 1.3 million migrant apprehensions in Texas; according to him, that's the highest ever for one year. He also said the state has seen a huge increase in drug seizures. Meanwhile, Ronald Burkett, a Texas National Guard commander, said weekly practices have been held to train for "mass migration response events." Engineers with the National Guard are also putting up new fences and concertina wire along some stretches of the border.
Abbott continued to rail on President Joe Biden for what he called passivity on the White House's part in helping to secure the southern border.
“This is the president’s job: national security," the governor said. "And our national security is at risk.”
It's 15 months since the launch of Operation Lone Star, which has come under scrutiny amid recent reports that Texas used COVID-19 relief funds for the mission. At the end of April, nearly half a billion in additional funds were approved to continue deployments related to the operation, even as investigations have found little explanation for how data apparently related to Operation Lone Star is gathered and presented.