The Journal recently reported that four of the Republican candidates for governor support the deployment of our National Guard to the border to help solve our border issues. Because the Guard cannot legally be used for immigration law enforcement, they suggest it could be used for performing “vehicle maintenance, caring for horses,” etc.
At the same time, they criticize Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for declining to follow the Texas example, which includes the deployment of the Texas Guard to the border. The N.M. candidates don’t understand the Texas plan. That program, known as Operation Lone Star, is a bizarre and extremely expensive scheme designed to circumvent the Constitution, which grants the sole legal authority for immigration law enforcement to the federal government, not the states.
.. After Lone Star started, Gov. Greg Abbott proclaimed Texas would start his program to punish people suspected of illegally crossing the border by arresting them under the pretext of suspected trespassing. However, in our country people cannot be arrested, incarcerated or prosecuted without the due process of law. This means that funding must be provided not only for police officers but also jails, courts, prosecutors, public defenders, court personnel, etc. To do this, Texas has created a separate criminal prosecution and detention system for the defendants, with separate criminal dockets, separate public defender assignments, separate jails and even a separate “criminal migrant processing facility” for booking. This system is riddled with civil rights violations and faces much litigation.
This is a very expensive proposition. Last year, at Abbott’s urging, Texas lawmakers set aside nearly $3 billion for border security efforts, including nearly $24 million to retool state prisons as jails for people rounded up in Lone Star, and more than $36 million for the related defense attorney, prosecutorial and court costs.
Texas has created an absurd and extremely expensive system intended to punish migrants and establish a state immigration policy under the guise of state criminal trespass law. Furthermore, Lone Star is a failure. According to Customs and Border Protection statistics, Texas’ Rio Grande Valley Sector of the Border Patrol continues to be the busiest in the country followed by the Del Rio and El Paso sectors. Abbott’s office now says the mass trespassing arrests secure the border and protect local communities, even though they don’t slow immigration.
We don’t need to send the men and women of our Guard to the border to work in horse barns or vehicle yards. We don’t need to waste vast amounts of money so we can arrest, prosecute and incarcerate people suspected of committing trespass.
If the GOP candidates believe that border issues are important, they should endorse a plan that makes sense.