What will Texas Governor Greg Abbott's recent declaration of "invasion" mean for state troopers deployed to support Operation Lone Star? Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw is facing questions about possible tactics and staffing.
The border effort has cost more than $4 billion in state and federal funds so far. Now state lawmakers are scrambling to make it work even if they lose the federal money.
Director McCraw addressed the Texas Senate Border Security Committee this week. They asked what the future of his agency's deployment looked like. He answered, “In terms of penalties, resources, the operations tempo, those types of things may change necessarily to reflect the environment that we operate in.”
But McCraw says what's really needed to secure the border is complete physical barriers between all legal crossings and and more than just dogs detecting illegal drugs on the bridges. “Technology has got to be out there to be able to identify the fentanyl, cocaine, the methamphetamine, the heroin coming across to increase the risk to the cartels, increase our chance of capturing it on the bridge itself,” he said.
The new stresses on DPS come as the agency struggles to maintain staff levels. McCraw says there are some some sacrifices to being a Texas DPS trooper. “You have your ‘go bag’ and you gotta go. And it doesn’t matter where it is, any given time,” he says adding, “They recognize that and in fact most of them want to be involved in whatever the most important thing is at that point in time.”
State lawmakers also learned they may have to foot the entire bill for its border operation without the federal funds the state received during the pandemic years. Sarah Hicks, the governor’s budget director told the Border Security Committee the governor wants county judges to urge their representatives in congress to, “redouble their efforts in January when they reconvene to require the federal government to once again address the border situation with the urgency and seriousness that it demands and to reimburse Texas for the billions of dollars that the state has had to spend in the absence of federal action.”
But time alone will tell whether the U.S. Congress recently elected will support those requests.