Owner security

$495 Million in Taxpayer Money Transferred to Texas Governor’s Border Security Mission

McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) – Five Republican leaders in Texas on Friday approved the transfer of $495.3 million in state funds for Operation Lone Star and other border security operations, prompting a backlash anger from Texas Democrats.

The state has so far earmarked $4 billion for border security efforts, including 10,000 Texas National Guard troops who have been sent to the Texas-Mexico border as part of the Operation Lone Star, according to Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Texas National Guard troops practice maneuvers April 7, 2022, on the banks of the Rio Grande in Mission, Texas. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)

The bulk of the funds — $463.5 million — will go to support Texas National Guard troops and $30 million to support state agencies that support border security, according to a letter sent Friday to several Heads of State.

The funds were authorized in the letter sent by Abbott; Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick; Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan; Senate Finance Committee Chair Joan Huffman and House Appropriations Committee Chair Greg Bonnen.

Funds will also go to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; Health and Social Services Commission; Texas Liquor Commission; Ministry of Public Security; Texas Department of State Health Services and Department of Juvenile Justice, according to the letter.

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa reacted angrily to the nearly half a billion dollars in transferred funds, according to a statement posted on social media.

“Abbott continues to play political theater along the southern border and endangers the livelihoods of servicemen and servicewomen. His actions are not only reckless, but also almost criminal. At this point, he’s spent nearly three billion dollars of taxpayers’ money to prop up his antics while everyday Texans continue to struggle – he’s turned his back on his constituents and become beholden to the greater oil and corruption,” Hinojosa said in a statement.

The transfer of such large amounts of Texas taxpayer funds is authorized under what is called a Disaster Related Transfer Authority, under the Texas government code, due to the Border Disaster Declaration Proclamation of the governor that he published last June.

The disaster proclamation stated that “the influx of individuals illegally crossing the Texas-Mexico border poses a continuing and immediate threat.” The Disaster Related Transfer Authority was approved by the Texas Legislature, while still in session, under House Bill No. 1, General Appropriations Act.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Operation Lone Star in Mission, Texas on March 9, 2021. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)

On April 22, Abbott extended the disaster declaration, which applies to the following counties: Bee, Brewster, Brooks, Chambers, Colorado, Crane, Crockett, Culberson, DeWitt, Dimmit, Duval, Edwards, Frio, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Hudspeth. , Jackson, Jeff Davis, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kimble, Kinney, Kleberg, La Salle, Lavaca, Live Oak, Mason, Maverick, McCulloch, McMullen, Medina, Menard, Midland, Pecos, Presidio, Real, Refugio, San Patricio, Schleicher, Sutton, Terrell, Throckmorton, Uvalde, Val Verde, Victoria, Webb, Wharton, Wilbarger, Wilson, Zapata and Zavala

“Texas will not sit on the sidelines as President Biden continues to turn a blind eye to the crisis on our southern border,” Abbott said in a statement Friday. “The safety and security of Texans is our top priority, and we will continue to fight to keep our communities safe. This additional funding ensures that the Lone Star State is fully equipped to provide Texans with the border security strategy they demand and deserve.

“As the border crisis continues and the Biden administration considers repealing Title 42, millions of people are entering our country,” Patrick said. “Their failure to secure the southern border means Texas has to use our tax dollars to step into the breach.”

Texas National Guard troops stand down April 7, 2022, after conducting riot drills in Mission, Texas. About 10,000 troops are assigned to the border as part of Operation Lone Star. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)

Funding was immediate on Friday, as planned.

During an April 5 hearing of the Texas Senate Committee on Border Security, Texas lawmakers were told that funding for Operation Lone Star would run out in May.

Border Report has learned that at its current rate of spending, half a billion dollars in additional funds will be needed approximately every three months to sustain the current operation.

Operation Lone Star was widely criticized, and there were several suicides and deaths among Texas National Guard troops assigned to the border mission. The most recent fatality occurred Friday in Eagle Pass, Texas, after a 22-year-old National Guardsman jumped into the Rio Grande to help two migrants, according to the Texas Military Department. His body was found on Monday.

During a hearing held Wednesday by the Texas House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety, Texas National Guard Master Sgt. Kiersten Faith of Tomball, Texas said “this mission was a complete waste of time,” according to email comments she submitted.

Faith said she arrived in October and until mid-December “did absolutely nothing”.

“We had points where we were literally sitting 5 feet off the highway and couldn’t do anything, we were just there to make the ranchers look good during the election. We start again now, except this time we’re sitting at a rest area where we can’t do anything at all. The spots we’re working on see little to no traffic, so Texas is literally wasting money having us all sit here,” Faith wrote.

Says Hinojosa: Abbot “wasted billions of our taxpayer dollars funding his failed operation instead of using it appropriately to expand Medicaid, raise teacher salaries, improve our roads and make sure Texans had what what they needed to survive.”