‘Operation Lone Star’ troopers cracking down on illegal border crossings, smuggling

Immigration

DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden met Friday with six immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children who benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protected them from deportation and legalized their residency.

The meeting comes as Biden presses Congress to pass immigration reform that would provide limited protection for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. It also comes amid the Biden administration’s efforts to allow more migrants to enter the country, while states like Texas continue their efforts to keep the situation under control.

There are at least 1,000 Department of Public Safety troopers stationed along the Texas-Mexico border. Their presence is a part of Operation Lone Star.

The initiative, launched by Gov. Greg Abbott, aims to crack down on illegal border crossings and smuggling operations after Biden took office. The directive is now enforced by air, land, and water.

Since the operation launched in March, Texas troopers have apprehended 631 people and encountered more than 24,000 migrant referrals.

“What that means is these are migrants that come across whether it’s along the river, whether they be smuggled in vehicles, and our DPS troopers come into contact with them and we refer them to us Border Patrol,” explained Texas DPS Lt. Christopher Olivarez.

“Now they’re starting to use social media, TikTok, Snapchat, to advertise drivers to come down to the Rio Grande Valley and pay them so they can smuggle people across and we’re seeing people from larger cities — Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston that come down here just for that purpose,” Olivarez said.

Lt. Olivarez says social media recruitment attracts juveniles who want to make money, which also appeals to the smugglers.

“Because they also know the prosecution for those cases is very low, the chances of them getting prosecuted is very low, so they know they’ll get released, and they’ll be doing it again,” Olivarez explained.

And 24 hours a day, DPS troopers and Border Patrol agents monitor from the sky. They say during shifts sometimes they only see two migrants, while others, north of 200.

“Helicopter noise … and that’s what they do is they just follow these tracks. There’s signs out that tell them where to go and they just keep going all the way up to that temporary processing center up there,” Olivarez said.

Oftentimes troopers are working 10-15 hour shifts, sometimes for 15 days straight. Part of their job is to conduct interviews with unaccompanied minors to identify who has been trafficked to intercept that smuggling ring. As of now, Gov. Abbot has not declared an end date for Operation Lone Star.

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