On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Operation Lone Star, which will deploy up to 1,000 Department of Public Safety officers and Texas National Guard troops to patrol the Texas-Mexico border.
The governor said the deployment is in response to what he considers a lack of federal response to an influx of unauthorized immigrants who have crossed the border since late February.
But questions remain over whether Abbott has accepted aid offered by the federal government to address the migrant surge.
Valerie Gonzalez has been covering the story for the McAllen Monitor in the Rio Grande Valley. She told Texas Standard that the governor stressed the need for more people on the border to address the rising number of immigrants attempting to cross.
“We were told by the sheriff in Hidalgo County that at the beginning of January, they had a meeting with Border Patrol and local landowners and the sheriff’s office. And they were discussing what ways they could fill the gaps led by agents who were pulled off roadways and over to the frontline by the river to address the rising number of migrants,” Gonzalez said.
According to a Border Patrol representative Gonzalez spoke with, National Guard troops will be observing the border and alerting Border Patrol when they see migrants crossing.
Gonzalez says there aren’t many details about how DPS officers will participate in the operation, other than providing additional personnel.
Abbott claimed last week in a tweet that migrants with COVID-19 are being released into the United States. Under the Biden administration’s policy, migrants who are released are not tested for COVID-19 unless they have symptoms, Gonzalez says.
Democratic lawmakers along the border say Abbott has not accepted federal aid that is available to help with local testing and other issues related to the migrant influx.
“Even though the families who are released from federal custody are not getting tested, they are getting tested by local municipalities,” she said. “Some of the tests are from the Texas Division of Emergency Management – a state agency. They sent thousands of tests to McAllen and Brownsville, two of the cities that have been receiving the most migrants in the Valley.”