Criminal JusticeElections 2022FederalImmigration & BorderIssuesTexas Military, State Troopers Increase Enforcement in La Joya Amid Surge in Crossings by Illegal Aliens

Gov. Greg Abbott pointed to Operation Lone Star and the state’s effort to supplement the insufficient federal response.
December 7, 2021
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) stated on Monday that the agency is increasing enforcement activity in Hidalgo County in response to another surge in unlawful border crossings.

“Today we enhanced operations in La Joya to stop the flow of migrants entering TX illegally,” the department wrote on Twitter. “[The Texas Game Warden], [the Texas Military] and DPS’ Tactical Marine Unit will have a heavy presence on the river to apprehend smugglers and deter criminal activity.”

Governor Greg Abbott also commented on Operation Lone Star, the state effort against illegal immigration that has been ongoing since March.

“The Texas Department of Public Safety is working around the clock to find and arrest smugglers. We will continue to secure the border and STOP smugglers,” Abbott wrote on social media. “Thank you [DPS] & [Texas Army National Guard] for continuing to keep our communities safe.”

DPS produced a video recorded from a helicopter that shows at least 16 patrol boats in the Rio Grande River, reportedly part of an effort to deter illegal crossings. On Monday, Fox News reported that in a matter of 24 hours, authorities had taken into custody approximately 2,300 illegal aliens in La Joya this past weekend.

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This week, the Biden administration began reimplementing the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the remain in Mexico policy, which requires many illegal aliens to go back to Mexico and wait to claim asylum.

Federal Judge Matthew Kaczmaryk had ordered the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to reimplement it, a decision that was upheld in August by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the Rio Grande Valley border patrol sector, which includes Hidalgo County, there were 45,324 illegal aliens apprehended in October, according to the most recent data available from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). That number includes 19,400 single adults, 18,956 family unit apprehensions, and 6,968 unaccompanied minors.

Though border enforcement is a federal responsibility, state law enforcement and military personnel have been filling the gap via Operation Lone Star as CBP has been overwhelmed due in large part to humanitarian issues and criminal activity associated with the extraordinary levels of illegal immigration that the U.S. has seen this year.

Abbott’s challengers in the Republican primary for governor have contended the state could be doing more. Notably, Don Huffines and Allen West have called for the invocation of Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution to declare the crisis on the southern border an invasion and deploy the entirety of the Texas National Guard.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."