As the Border Patrol is committed to the huge task of implementing humanitarian care for thousands of migrant detainees in custody, their involvement in actual patrols is significantly decreased.
Along state highways, back roads, and the banks of the Rio Grande, state troopers and Texas Army National Guard staff are sometimes the only law enforcement officers apparent.
In March 2021, Governor Greg Abbott announced Operation Lone Star would commence in response to an uptick in migrant crossings, human smuggling, and narcotics trafficking. The operation involves the deployment of more than 1,000 state police and National Guardsmen to the immediate border area.
The operation proceeds in full swing nearly six months later. Despite the increased presence of the troopers and guardsmen, lax federal immigration policies have created the issue to continue almost unabated.
As of Tuesday, Operation Lone Star netted 64,900 migrant referrals to federal officials. More than 5,000 criminal arrests have been made and more than 8,000 pounds of cocaine and methamphetamine were taken. Illicit currency to the tune of $14.7 million was found in relation to the crimes committed along the border. The number of firearms seized stands at 1,500. There were roughly 700 vehicle pursuits involving human smugglers.
The flow of migrants across the border has kept the operation running and urged Abbott to apply state prison beds to house migrants imprisoned for criminal trespass. In August, Abbott granted arrest authorities to the Texas Army National Guard.
The migrant from Guatemala, who had just run across patches of scrubland between Mexico and the US, refused to give her name. She was handed a plastic bag to stow her few belongings — hoop earrings, a creased card with an image of the Virgin Mary. She was told to remove the laces from her mud-caked sneakers. Laces and belts can be used as weapons, or to perform suicide, and Border Patrol agents need they be removed as soon as people are caught.
Asked if she had traveled by herself to the border, the slight young woman who appeared to be in her 20s replied boldly: “I am not alone. God is with me.”