Prior to President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the number of illegal immigrants entering the country via the southern border was just over 400,000. As a result of the policies enacted by the Biden administration—and the policies ignored by the Biden administration—the numbers have jumped to record-breaking highs.

In 2021, there were 1.7 million illegal border crossers detected, while in May 2022 alone, there were 232,628 illegal border crossers. This is the highest monthly total in 23 years of counting and a 30 percent increase from the same time last year. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol are well on track to break the 2021 record this year.

As a result of this flood of illegal immigration, drug smuggling has skyrocketed. Fentanyl overdoses have become the leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18-45, with enough kilograms of the drug confiscated over the last nine months alone to kill every Texas citizen twice over.

In response to the influx of illegal crossings, Gov. Greg Abbott launched Operation Lone Star, a joint mission between the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Military Department, in March of 2021.

The stated purpose of the operation is to “prevent, detect, and interdict transnational criminal activity between the ports of entry,” according to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw. The law enforcement operation has been instructed to use “available resources to enforce all applicable federal and state laws to prevent the criminal activity along the border.”

Since the launch of Operation Lone Star, Abbott says the program has made more than 287,000 migrant apprehensions and more than 17,700 criminal arrests, with more than 15,100 felony charges reported. Most illegal immigrants are detained for trespassing on private property.

Meanwhile, many citizens have said the program is not enough. The Republican Party of Texas has called on Abbott to declare an invasion on the border, using constitutional authority to not only apprehend but repel illegal aliens from the southern border. So far, Abbott has not taken that step.

The Timeline

March 2021

March 6 – Operation Lone Star launched by Gov. Greg Abbott.

March 17 – Operation Lone Star expanded to include anti-human trafficking efforts, including conducting interviews with minors.

May 2021

May 31 – Abbott issued disaster declaration that:

  • Authorized the use of “all necessary state and local resources” to enforce all federal and state criminal laws including criminal trespassing, smuggling, and human trafficking.
  • Directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to stop giving state licenses to child care facilities under contract with the federal government who will shelter unlawful immigrants.
  • Directed the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to provide guidance and request all necessary waivers to give border counties flexibility in establishing alternative detention facilities and add or expand capacity as needed.

July 2021

July 26 – Criminal charges that fall under OLS clarified. The primary offenses are criminal trespass, criminal mischief, smuggling, and human trafficking.

July 28 – Abbott released an executive order that:

  • Prohibits private companies and nonprofits from transporting illegal aliens from the southern border into other parts of the state.
  • Directs the Texas Department of Public Safety to stop any vehicle upon reasonable suspicion of such violation and reroute such vehicles back to their point of origin or a port of entry.
  • Gives DPS the authority to impound a vehicle that violates the order.

September 2021

Sept. 2 – House Bill 9 passed, adding $1.8 billion to the funding that was already appropriated ($1.1 billion). Provides funding to seven different state entities for the purposes of border security.

Sept. 17 – Gov. Abbott signed House Bill 9 into law, which provided an additional $1.8 billion in state funding for border security (including Operation Lone Star) over the next two years.

Sept. 19 – $100 million in grants was given for local governments to enhance interagency border security operations supporting OLS.

April 2022

April 7 – Gov. Abbott announces the plan to bus illegal migrants to Washington, D.C., which was criticized as a “gimmick” by some observers.

April 29 – Additional $495.3 million approved for Operation Lone Star.

June 2022

June 29 – Gov. Abbott announced the expansion of the state’s border security operations by creating Texas Department of Public Safety strike teams and establishing new vehicle inspection checkpoints targeting semi-trucks.

July 2022

July 6 – An additional $30 million in Operation Lone Star grant funding was given to Texas cities and counties.

August 2022

Aug. 5 – Texas transported more than 6,500 illegal migrants to Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Juliana Berg

Juliana is a summer fellow for Texas Scorecard. She is studying political science and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. She enjoys learning about the philosophies that shape America.