Greg Abbott is “throwing” billions of his state’s taxpayer money at securing the U.S.-Mexico border, a job usually reserved for the federal Border Patrol and Homeland Security. Meanwhile, experts are warning that the state is not fully prepared for another winter freeze like the one this past February that left an estimated 702 people dead.
“Texas is investing $3 billion of taxpayer dollars doing the federal government’s job, and what we’re doing with that money is we have now more than 6,500 troopers and officers down on the border especially focused right now on trying to prevent these caravans from coming across the border,” the governor told Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business on Monday.
Abbott’s efforts at securing the border are part of what he calls Operation Lone Star, which he says is intended to “combat the smuggling of people and drugs into Texas.” He has deployed the Texas National Guard to prevent migrants and smugglers from coming into the United States and to continue building former President Trump’s beloved border wall.
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“As we speak, Maria, there are officers and National Guard on the border and they are laying down razor wire at all the low water crossings, as well as building barriers on those crossings,” Abbott said. “In addition to that … Texas is building its own border wall — that process is moving very rapidly — and I’m told to expect some of that border wall to be up as soon as two months from now.”
Democratic lawmakers have demanded an investigation into the initiative. Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and others wrote on Friday that Operation Lone Star is “wreaking havoc on Texas’ judicial system” in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“These operations have continued to militarize Texas’ border communities and interfered with the federal immigration system, likely violating the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution,” the members of Congress wrote. “Even more egregiously, these programs have directly led to a violation of state laws and constitutional due process rights.”
While Abbott’s focus is on the border wall, the state’s infrastructure remains vulnerable to the same freezing temperatures that shut down Texas last Feburary. Abbott signed a bill implementing some reforms and pledged that “everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas,” but Michael Webber, a University of Texas at Austin professor specializing in energy, recently told Bloomberg that the state has “not done enough to” prepare its electrical system to withstand another deadly winter storm. “We are not ready for another cold winter,” he added.
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