According to Governor Greg Abbott, Texas is being invaded by migrants coming across the southern border, and only his draconian anti-immigration policies can stop them. Problem is, nothing he’s doing is stopping illegal immigration in any significant way.
To hear the governor tell it, Texas is being forced to wage its own military operation to repel migrants thanks to the open border policies of the Biden Administration. He said so in a recent response to the Department of Justice telling him he can’t put floating razor wire in the Rio Grande, an act that has led to children and pregnant women being injured during crossings.
“Texas has the sovereign authority to defend our border, under the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution,” his statement read. “We have sent the Biden Administration numerous letters detailing our authority, including the one I hand-delivered to President Biden earlier this year.”
Abbott absolutely does not have the constitutional authority to police a federal border or erect barriers on the river.
Even if Abbott was in the right legally, there’s no evidence that his efforts have done anything to curb illegal immigration. A blockbuster report by the Wall Street Journal recently laid out exactly how ineffectual Abbott’s actions have been.
In some cases, Abbott’s actions appear to have actually increased illegal immigration. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, illegal crossings rose faster in places that Abbott heavily targeted with Operation Lone Star. In Del Rio, a site of heavy action, crossings rose 64 percent. In the Rio Grande Valley, which did not participate in Lone Star’s trespassing and arrest protocol, crossings fell by 35 percent.
To be sure, there have been a lot of arrests. However, the raw numbers do not tell the whole story. Many of the people arrested have been subsequently released when judges found the actions of the officers discriminatory or illegal. Several jurisdictions dozens of miles away from the border like Midland have counted captures there as part of the overall anti-immigrant effort.
Even with the numbers fudging, arrests are only up around 1 percent, or 11,000 out of the typical 850,000 arrests.
The cost to achieve that measly and almost certainly inflated goal so far is closing in on $10 billion. Operation Lone Star has been a long-term deployment of the Texas Nation Guard to enact anti-immigrant measures. It’s led to an increased number of desertions and suicides, as well as several officers being accused of entrapment and improper behavior.
In fact, if any chief executive could be said to be effectively reducing illegal immigration, it’s President Joe Biden. Far from an open border policy, Biden’s actions have reduced illegal immigration far more than Abbott’s possibly illegal border war. Conservative attorneys general howled about Biden’s program to allow Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans or Venezuelans to enter the United States under parole conditions. That program has reduced illegal immigration by 380,000 alone.
There is one area where Abbott’s border policy is a resounding success: politics. By painting himself as the only thing standing between Texas and a horde of criminal migrants, Abbott easily sailed to re-election. Anti-immigrant sentiment in America is on the rise, whether claims of danger from migrants is backed by data or not. In that regard, Abbott’s billions spent on fighting refugees and migrants have paid off handsomely.