Texas' Operation Lone Star: More than 500 buses sent to sanctuary cities

Since Texas’ border security mission Operation Lone Star launched, the multi-agency effort has led to the apprehension of nearly 400,000 foreign nationals who entered the U.S. illegally.

Published: June 25, 2023 12:15am

(The Center Square) -

Since Texas’ border security mission Operation Lone Star launched more than two years ago, the multi-agency effort has led to the apprehension of nearly 400,000 foreign nationals who entered the U.S. illegally.

Since last April, Texas has sent over 500 buses of foreign nationals to six so-called sanctuary cities.

Gov. Greg Abbott provided an update Friday on Operation Lone Star achievements, saying Texas is continuing “to fill the dangerous gaps left by the Biden Administration's refusal to secure the border. Every individual who is apprehended or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and the nation due to President Joe Biden's open border policies.”

Since March 2021, Texas OLS officers have apprehended more than 384,000 illegal foreign nationals and made more than 29,000 criminal arrests with over 28,000 felony charges reported. They’ve also seized over 419 million lethal doses of fentanyl, more than enough to kill everyone in the United States.

Last year, Texas began its busing strategy to “provide much needed relief to border communities” by busing people north who’d illegally entered the U.S. and were unlawfully released into Texas, Abbott argues. The first destination city was Washington, D.C., including dropping off buses in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence. Since last April, Texas has bused more than 10,000 illegal foreign nationals to Washington, D.C.

By August of last year, Texas expanded the busing strategy to two additional cities, having now bused more than 8,200 to New York City and over 2,600 to Chicago.

Last November, Texas added another city, Philadelphia, and has so far bused over 1,600 people there.

This year, Texas expanded the busing strategy to two more cities: Denver and Los Angeles. Since May, Texas has bused over 210 people to Denver and since June 14, over 40 to Los Angeles.

All told, Texas has bused more than 21,050 people to six sanctuary cities since last April.

Busing is voluntary and free to passengers. All adults must sign waivers, including guardians and parents of minors being transported.

While many have criticized Abbott for his busing strategy, the Democratic-led city of El Paso has transported more people to New York City and Chicago than the state has this year.

According to El Paso’s “Migrant Situational Awareness Dashboard,” the city has arranged the transportation of 13,972 people to New York City and Chicago as of June 23, via plane, train and charter bus.

Unlike the city of El Paso, which has received over $10 million in federal taxpayer money since last July, Texas taxpayers are funding Texas’ busing strategy.

And Abbott notes that while Democratic mayors and governors in the six states are complaining about receiving busloads of 50 people at a time, Texas has borne the brunt of illegal entries, dealing with over 4,000 a day in a light month like May.

Last month, for example, Border Patrol agents in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s three busiest sectors in Texas reported over 130,500 apprehensions and gotaways, those who illegally enter and intentionally evade capture. That’s over six times more people than Texas bused to sanctuary cities over the last year, and doesn’t count all of the five Texas sectors.

Del Rio Sector agents apprehended 30,840 people who’d illegally entered the U.S. in Texas and reported over 14,500 gotaways last month, according to data The Center Square exclusively obtained from a Border Patrol agent.

Rio Grande Valley Sector agents apprehended nearly 40,000 and reported over 2,000 gotaways, a low number compared to previous months, some suggest because far fewer agents are in the field.

El Paso Sector agents reported 26,774 apprehensions and over 16,000 gotaways.

The judges and commissioners of at least 42 Texas counties have declared an invasion at the southern border, with more expected to do so, and dozens of counties have issued disaster declarations citing a surge of crime stemming from the southern border.

While Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has maintained the border is secure, Abbott and 24 other Republican governors who’ve pledged to support OLS argue the opposite. So far, hundreds of personnel from law enforcement agencies and national guard units from over 10 states are currently in Texas supporting OLS.

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