(The Center Square) – The Texas legislature has allocated more than $11.6 billion to border security efforts over a four-year period, the most in state history.
It totals more than multiple state fiscal year budgets and more than what the Trump administration allocated to federal border security efforts in Texas.
State Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said at a media event with Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday that in mid-2021, he met with the governor to carve out a budget plan to fund Operation Lone Star, Abbott’s border security mission, which was launched in March 2021.
“The problem at the border was of a magnitude that we had never before experienced and efforts and initiatives we had taken in the past were simply going to be insufficient. We needed a new plan, and it was going to require great resources,” Bonnen said. Since then, the legislature, led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House Dade Phelan, have been “unwavering in our commitment to step into the gap and to address a chaotic crisis where the federal government has refused to address.”
The amount that Texas taxpayers have funded for OLS is greater than federal taxpayer money allocated for Texas border security operations under the Trump administration, Bonnen said. “When you look at the appropriations for border security under the four years of the Trump administration in Texas, that was $1.6 billion. For the four years of the Biden presidency, Texas is appropriating $11.6 billion to do the same thing,” he said.
Earlier in the week, Abbott met with 13 governors who all expressed their commitment to defending Texas and showed how combined efforts in one area in Eagle Pass, Texas, worked. Illegal entries went from more than 3,000 a day to roughly three, the governor said. OLS efforts are also expanding in other areas along the Texas-Mexico border, Border Czar Mike Banks told The Center Square.
Texas has been so successful at blocking illegal entry that cartel activity has been pushed west into Democratic-led states that aren’t implementing similar tactics that Texas has, he told The Center Square. “If you look at the number of illegal border crossings today, Texas counts for 30% of those crossings. The remaining 70% are crossing in Arizona, California, and New Mexico. Why? Because they’re not putting up the resistance that Texas is.”
Bonnen also explained how OLS funds were being spent. Roughly $3.1 billion goes toward expanding border barriers and infrastructure, including continuing to build Texas’ own border wall.
Roughly $200 million is spent on transporting illegal foreign nationals to the six self-described sanctuary cities of Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles. The remainder funds Texas Military Department and Texas Department of Public Safety operations, Bonnen said.
“What everybody should understand” is the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker, and members of the legislature “stand firmly committed that as long as there is an absence of the federal government doing its job to secure our international border, we will step up and take their place,” he said.
What Texas has allocated for border security operations is greater than fiscal year budgets of multiple states, including Iowa, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming, for example, according to an analysis of state fiscal year budgets by The Center Square.
What Texas spends on border security is also more than the beginning balance of fiscal 2024 general revenues of all but seven states, and more than the ending balance of seven states’ fiscal 2023 general revenue funds, according to an analysis by The Center Square of state budget data compiled by the National Association of State Budget Officers.
Texas’ general revenue fund was $39.2 billion at the end of fiscal 2023 and at the beginning of fiscal 2024, the second highest in the country behind New York.
Since Abbott launched OLS in 2021, Texas law enforcement officers have apprehended nearly 500,000 illegal foreign nationals and made more than 39,000 criminal arrests with more than 35,000 felony charges reported, according to state data. They’ve also seized more than 458 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill more than everyone in the United States and Canada.
Texas has transported more than 100,000 foreign nationals who illegally entered the country and were unlawfully released into Texas by the Biden administration, Abbott argues, to sanctuary cities, with New York City receiving the most.
Abbott maintains that OLS “continues to fill the dangerous gaps created by the Biden Administration’s refusal to secure the border. Every individual who is apprehended or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and the nation due to President Joe Biden’s open border policies.”