‘As long as it takes’: Operation Lone Star to continue despite the return of MPP

Border Report

WESLACO, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Gov. Greg Abbott started Operation Lone Star in response to the Biden Administration’s decision to end the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) also known as the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. Now, it appears the United States and Mexico have agreed to resume that practice.

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) has encountered 80,000 migrants during the nine months of Operation Lone Star and stopped thousands of pounds of drugs from entering the United States.

While MPP will be reinstated, Lt. Chris Olivarez, a South Texas DPS spokesperson, said that Operation Lone Star would continue.

“You know, right now that’s indefinite, there’s no date when we’re gonna conclude this operation. We’re gonna keep moving forward as long as it takes, we’re still seeing increased activity,” Olivarez said.

Texas Military Department and DPS presence in the Rio Grande Valley has increased since March. There are now around 10,000 soldiers and troopers along the border.

When asked about a possible rush on the border as a result of MPP being reinstated, Olivarez said there was no indication that that scenario would happen, and it wasn’t something DPS was concerned about, but they were monitoring the situation.

“We have more boats on the water, as well as Texas Parks and Wildlife will also be out there as well with us, helping us, trying to deter any mass groups that may come across,” Olivarez said about DPS preparedness.

Major Mike Perry, a media relations officer with the Texas Military Department, said that thousands of armed National Guard troops were also actively patrolling the border in cooperation with DPS for Operation Lone Star.

Part of the increased presence of TMD soldiers and DPS troopers for Operation Lone Star consists of building border fencing to deter migrants from trespassing on state and private land. While also acting as a deterrent, the fence allows state troopers and law enforcement officers to arrest migrants who cross those fences.

Stopping people from illegally immigrating into the U.S. is falls under Customs and Border Protection, as it is the duty of the federal government. State troopers, local law enforcement, or National Guard soldiers do not have the authority to arrest people who have illegally crossed the border.

Constructing fences on state land and with approval on privately owned land allows DPS to detain and arrest people for trespassing instead of entering the country illegally.

Where those fences can be constructed is limited.

“Obviously, we cannot put up any type of barriers, any type of shipping containers, barbed wire, in those areas because it is federal property, it is federal land. So, we’re only able to do that on actual state property or private property that we have access to do that,” Olivarez said.

Last week, the Texas General Land Office announced they had leased state-owned land in Starr county to DPS to construct temporary border fencing. 

Up until then, the state had not built any border fencing in the Rio Grande Valley, only in the Del Rio area.

The Texas Military Department will be constructing five miles of border fencing in Starr County. When asked if there were any plans to find land and build fencing in Hidalgo and Cameron county, Major Perry said he “can’t speak on Cameron or Hidalgo County”.

Perry said that construction for those five miles of fencing would begin in the near future.

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