Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security operation is “political theater,” according to one journalist who has closely followed the crisis at the southern border.

Last spring, Abbott instituted Operation Lone Star, a joint effort between the Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard to crack down on the influx of migrants crossing into Texas from Mexico.

On a recent episode of The Luke Macias Show, John Davidson—a journalist with The Federalist and an expert on the border—that effort has largely been a failure.

“Greg Abbott authorized through executive order this Operation Lone Star, which, as you know, is the the operation to get … illegal immigration under control in Texas in the face of inaction from the Biden administration and in the face of record arrests at the border. We had 1.7 million last year; we’re on track this year to exceed 2 million, which would blow all previous records out of the water,” Davidson explained.

But what he saw when he went to regions where OLS was in effect struck a different chord from the picture painted by the state’s top executive.

“What I have seen from … being there, and from talking to people and from asking questions, is that a lot of what the state is doing, and a lot of what Governor Abbott has sort of authorized is political theater, so that he can say that he’s doing something about the border in the face of federal inaction.”

Davidson explained those arrested in the operation are usually expediently let go.

“With Title 42, which is the pandemic error order that Trump issued that Biden continued (which just means an adult male is apprehended crossing illegally), they’re immediately expelled,” said Davidson. “No, they don’t get processed. They don’t get to file an asylum claim, they just get literally sent back over the border.”

But when state authorities arrest them, it’s a different story.

“And then they’re either free to go or they get taken into custody by Border Patrol and file an asylum claim, where they wouldn’t have been able to do that before. … So they file an asylum claim, and they get into the asylum sort of racket, and they get processed and released with a work authorization three to four years for the case to run its course. And that’s what they had wanted.”

For those smuggling illegal aliens—largely minors—across the border, there is big money involved.

“They were discarding these wristbands when they got to the north bank of the Rio Grande, or the wristbands corresponded to databases that the cartels and the smuggling organizations had set up, where they have the cell phone number of the migrant, the cell phone and home address and location of their families back in the sending country,” Davidson reported.

Given the debts owed by these migrants as soon as they step foot on American soil, the future is far from bright.

“These migrants are not paying full freight upfront; they’re not paying six or seven or eight or $10,000. They don’t have that kind of money. They’re going into debt bondage to cartels and criminal organizations so that after they get into the United States, after they get processed by border patrol and released by CBP, after they’ve gotten to the location where they’re going—to the United States, wherever that might be—they still owe these criminal groups thousands of dollars.”

The full interview may be listened to here.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens