Texas Gov. Greg Abbott slashes $500 million from state budgets to flow money into border crackdown

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will take the biggest cut, losing $211 million.

click to enlarge Gov. Greg Abbott puts on his game face and a faux-military shirt for a photo op along the U.S.-Mexico border. - Instagram / governorabbott
Instagram / governorabbott
Gov. Greg Abbott puts on his game face and a faux-military shirt for a photo op along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday he's funneling another $495.3 million in state funds into Operation Lone Star, his border security crackdown that detractors have labeled a pricy election-year publicity stunt.

The Republican governor announced the funding surge weeks after state military officials said the mission couldn't stay afloat through the end of the year without additional money. The program, which has deployed 10,000 Texas National Guard troops to the border, is costing the state $2 billion annually, the Texas Tribune reports.

The latest cash infusion will be carved from the budgets of other state agencies, according to a letter from Abbott's office. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission — which oversees the Women, Infants, and Children, Children's Medicaid and food stamp programs — will face the biggest cut at $211 million over two fiscal years.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Department of State Health Services and Juvenile Justice Department also will fall under the budget ax. In the letter, Abbott said the cuts "will not affect any agency or program function."

"Texas will not sit on the sidelines as President Biden continues turning a blind eye to the crisis at our southern border," the governor said in a news release trumpeting the new funding.

A flood of recent reports have highlighted overblown claims from Abbott and other officials about how effective Operation Lone Star is sweeping up drug and human smugglers. The governor has said the crackdown has nabbed nearly 900 pounds of fentanyl, for example, but that number is statewide, not from the border.

Further, civil rights groups have sued Texas for violating the constitutional rights of thousands of migrants arrested on minor trespassing charges under Operation Lone Star and jailed without access to attorneys or court dates. The latest of those seeks millions in compensation for men it says were illegally imprisoned.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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