Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday announced an additional $38.4 million funding for Operation Lone Star (OLS), which was launched in March in response to the burgeoning crisis at the southern border.
The extra funding will go toward law enforcement, jail operations, and court administration activities in direct support of OLS, the Republican governor’s office said in a press release.
“In the federal govt’s absence, Texas has taken unprecedented actions to secure the border through #OperationLoneStar,” Abbott said on Twitter in announcing the move. “This additional funding will ensure our law enforcement & local partners have the resources they need to keep our communities safe.”
OLS, in collaboration with the state’s Department of Public Safety, deploys air, ground, marine, and tactical border security assets to prevent Mexican criminal organizations from smuggling drugs and people into the state.
“From deterring illegal immigration, to preventing the smuggling of drugs and weapons, to curtailing human trafficking, the deployment of resources and personnel needed to arrest and jail criminals along the border is imperative to our comprehensive border security strategy under Operation Lone Star,” the governor said in a statement.
“This additional funding will strengthen our response to the border crisis and ensure our law enforcement and local partners have the resources they need to keep our communities safe in the federal government’s absence,” he added.
The release notes that since the program was launched, some $74.8 million has been awarded to cities and counties in proximity to the U.S.–Mexico border.
The additional funding includes $19.5 million for specialized law enforcement equipment and supplies, and $16 million for additional overtime and pay, including for contract and salaried peace officers, jailers, prosecutors, indigent defense counsel, and administrative court staff.
It also includes $1.9 million for construction of regional emergency communication and radio towers, as well as additional capacity in county jail facilities, and some $800,000 for travel costs associated with non-border counties providing law enforcement assistance to border disaster-declared counties, as well as specialized training for law enforcement and prosecution personnel, the release states.
It comes just days after the governor confirmed that the state has started building its own state-funded border wall.
“Texas has officially started building its own border wall,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday, while asserting that President Joe Biden’s immigration policies allow for an “open border” since he took office in January.
Biden, the governor added, also “refuses to enforce laws passed by Congress to secure the border and enforce immigration laws.” He said “Texas is stepping up to do the federal government’s job.”
Abbott earlier this year, amid near-record numbers of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border, announced that he would try to secure funding for Texas to construct its own border barrier after Biden signed an executive order that scrapped federal construction of the wall.
Texas’s wall construction, which would not obtain federal funding, has been favored by Abbott as a means of cracking down on illegal immigration and drug trafficking. In June, the governor started a private donation campaign that has raised about $54 million.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.