Solving The American Border Crisis: Texas Gov. Abbott’s ‘Operation Lone Star’ Must Go

The Biden Administration has filed a lawsuit against Texas in response to the placement of a barrier in the Rio Grande River meant to deter immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to the Office of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the bright-orange buoys floating in the river are part of a broader initiative, called ‘Operation Lone Star’, aimed to “prevent, detect, and interdict transnational criminal behavior between ports of entry.” It was announced in June that the program would cover 305 metres (1,000 ft.) at the bottom of the River in the Eagle Pass area, which has seen about 270,000 migrant detentions this year. In 2021, the Border Crisis in the United States experienced a significant deterioration, with the number of migrant encounters at the border reaching a new annual record, surpassing four times the previous, with over 1.6 million encounters. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s solution to this problem has posed suffering and even death to migrants at the border. One Texas State Police Medic detailed the reality of Abbott’s operation, describing “exhausted migrants being cut up by razor wire, a teenager breaking his leg to escape the barriers and officers being directed to withhold water from migrants struggling in the perilous heat.” The barriers have elicited federal humanitarian and public concerns for the danger it poses to migrants, and to the river whose flow has been drastically changed. 

Adriana Martinez, a professor at Southern Illinois University who specializes in the impact of projects on the Rio Grande said “It certainly is going to make the water act unexpectedly. And who knows what it’s going to do once the water gets higher.” In a statement released by associate attorney general Vanita Gupta, “the presence of the floating barrier has [also] prompted diplomatic protests by Mexico and risks damaging U.S. foreign policy.” The Justice Department is taking substantial legal action against Texas who has violated federal laws governing navigable waterways, as the state received no federal authorization to put the barriers in the river. President Joe Biden has taken it up in federal court, asking a judge to force Texas to remove the barrier for its unlawful and humanitarian concerns. Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has blamed President Joe Biden for the increase in illegal immigration that “made the barrier necessary.” “Texas will see you in court, Mr. President,” Abbott said in a statement.

The severity of the American border crisis has sparked national debates on immigration policies, border security, and humanitarian concerns, but repeatedly fails to change. While Gov. Abbott proposes that a barrier can keep immigrants out, it is important to acknowledge the faults in his operation. Abbott’s campaign will not keep migrants from illegally entering the United States, but it will become a danger to migrants crossing through the Eagle Pass Area. Despite the fact that there are hundreds of other crossings along the Southern Border that can be used for border crossings by migrants, Abbott fails to acknowledge the origins of the American border crisis. If the root of the issue cannot be identified and solved, then the number of migrants crossing through the border will continue to rise. And while we could ‘Build a wall’ or line the 3,145 kilometer national border with orange buoys, barbed wire, and barriers; it might be better to address the reasons why so many migrants are pleading to enter. 

Today, the primary courses of migrants arriving in the U.S.-Mexico borders are countries located in Central America, including Guatemala, Hondura, and El Salvador. These countries are all experiencing a multitude of push factors such as poverty, violence, inequality, and political instability. Many of these countries, when obtaining independence from Spain in the early 19th century, called on the United States to settle these conflicts through militarization. According to TIME, “The United States played a central role in many of these conflicts, propping up military dictatorships and supporting them with logistical aid, money, training and weapons, even as many of them committed human rights atrocities.” The conflicts exacerbated by the United States in Central America in the early-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century triggered large waves of emigration, laying down migration patterns that are ever-present today. While there are many other factors that have pushed people to migrate to the Southern border, there are also pull factors in the U.S. that have contributed to the American border crisis. For example, the U.S. economy relies heavily on low-wage immigrant labor such as in agriculture, the service industry, and construction. But while the economy relies on it, the immigration policy makes it hard for Latin American immigrants to legally enter the United States. “Nevertheless, would-be migrants, desperate for a better life, know that if they can make it across the border, odds are they can get a job even without papers. This situation incentivizes risky border crossings and unauthorized entry into the United States.” said TIME.

Policy after policy, there has been no change to immigration dynamics in the United States. If Abbott is serious about securing the border, he needs to address the push and pull factors that are enticing migrants to cross the border, no matter the illegality and the danger. The United States exacerbated the conflict in Latin America decades ago and must now support those countries to address the problems they helped to create. The answers are clear, but they may take time. We must continue to evaluate our role in international conflict if we want to solve issues within the United States.


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