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Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that the state will spend an additional $30 million on his border mission, Operation Lone Star, to provide grants to cities and counties seeking financial assistance to combat criminal activity related to border crossings.
The announcement comes after frustrated local officials, including those in border counties, called on Abbott on Tuesday to take drastic action. The county officials urged the governor to declare an “invasion” under the Texas and United States constitutions and to deploy state resources to remove migrants from the country. Immigration law enforcement and deportations are the responsibility of the federal government.
“While the Biden Administration has abandoned border communities, the State of Texas will support them and help them respond to the disaster that President Biden has caused on the border,” Abbott said in a statement Thursday.
His press release said the funding would come from the governor’s Public Safety Office, which administers federal and state grants focusing on terrorism, victims services, justice programs, Crime Stoppers and border security, among other programs.
The Operation Lone Star grant program launched in September of last year with an initial $100 million in funding available for local governments. To date, $58 million has been distributed, while $42 million has yet to be used, according to a press release.
“This additional $30 million in funding from the Operation Lone Star Grant Program will provide significant resources to help our local communities as we work together to prevent illegal immigration and the smuggling of people, weapons, and deadly drugs like fentanyl into our state, ” said spokeswoman Rene Eze in an email.
The funding is intended to deter human smuggling, drug trafficking and gang activity at the border. Those applying to the funding can use it to increase law enforcement operations, expand detention facility operations, support medical examiners who identify the remains of migrants, increase the capacity and expediency of courts processing criminal trials related to Operation Lone Star, and provide legal representation to those being tried.
Of the new dollars, $14 million will be available specifically to border-adjacent counties, while $16 million will be made available to any county or city that applies for it.
The announcement also comes as Operation Lone Star and border security efforts more broadly are being scrutinized in Texas after more than 50 migrants died in a truck in San Antonio, in what is deemed the single deadliest migrant smuggling case in U.S. history.
Meanwhile, The Texas Tribune and ProPublica reported that the Justice Department is investigating Operation Lone Star — an effort with a price tag of roughly $4 billion — for alleged civil rights violations.
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