On Wednesday, the Texas Senate Committee on Border Security met in Eagle Pass to hear testimony from Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw and many Texans on the ongoing border crisis and status of Operation Lone Star.
“It’s a win-win for the cartels,” said McCraw of the Biden administration’s open border policies. Criminal cartels’ human-trafficking and drug-smuggling operations are benefiting greatly from an unsecured southern border.
Indeed, U.S. Border Patrol has already arrested more than 1.7 million illegal border crossers since the beginning of the federal fiscal year in October 2021 and is on track to log more than 2 million arrests by the end of the fiscal year in September.
Nevertheless, Sheena Rodriguez, president of Alliance for a Safe Texas, says Border Patrol is likely encountering only 10-20 percent of illegal border crossers.
Operation Lone Star—Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security push—has made more than 287,000 apprehensions and more than 17,700 criminal arrests of their own, with more than 15,100 felony charges reported.
Meanwhile, despite state actions, Texans’ livelihoods are being threatened.
“Our main source of income is hunting,” said Christopher Roswell of Maverick County, in which Eagle Pass is located. Roswell runs a hunting operation on his family’s land and said, “For the first time, I have received phone calls asking if it’s safe to come hunt.”
We’ve had countless hunts ruined by illegals. Our hunters have been threatened by illegals. My livelihood is being threatened.
Roswell says “safety has become a major concern” for his family and employees. “We’ve been cussed at, threatened, had rocks and sticks thrown at us. Our dogs have been beaten on multiple occasions by illegals.”
He added, “It’s not just the damages that we have to deal with—it’s also the abuses of the human trafficking.”
In the last year, we have found six dead illegals that I’m aware of. I have helped women and men who have been beaten, raped, and abandoned by their groups. This past winter, we found a little girl. She was 8 years old. She had been lost for three days all by herself because they left her.
Regarding OLS, Roswell says, “If it wasn’t for additional law enforcement or Operation Lone Star, we would have been totally overrun. In the last two years, I have received more property damage than 28 years combined.”
Every hunting camp I have has been vandalized. Our headquarters have been broken into. Over half of our highland gates have been run through. We’ve had three electric gates destroyed.
Most of my hunting blinds have been vandalized. Windows and doors broken. One set on fire. Several used as bathrooms.
We’ve lost water pumps. We’ve lost storage tanks because illegals drill holes in the side even though they have access to fresh water. We’ve lost countless floats. Probably about 200,000 gallons of fresh water has just been wasted and poured out onto the ground. … The amount of trash on the property is completely disgusting. We have tons and tons of backpacks and bottles and trash. Our fences have been completely ruined.
Roswell says he needs to replace his fence that runs along the highway because it’s been cut and driven through on too many occasions to maintain its structural integrity.
The cost of this level of property damage?
“All these damages in two years’ time have added up to a little over $200,000. And that’s without any new fence,” said Roswell. “The damages are not sustainable.”
“Operation Lone Star and the special brush teams have been vital to slowing down illegal traffic and providing police safety,” said Roswell.
However, he adds, “We need more law enforcement. We need to help the local prosecutors. Ultimately, we need the federal government to do their job to secure our border, enforce the laws, and stop putting our nation, our communities, and people’s livelihoods at risk.”