One of the oldest anti-immigrant tropes is that undocumented people are a massive drain on our government’s resources, despite paying billions of dollars in local, state, and national taxes annually. The truth is that Republican officials are the actual moochers. The Texas Tribune reports that Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star border stunt needs nearly $2 billion to continue running through the two-year budget cycle beginning in September.
Nearly $460 million is needed to keep the political stunt operational just through this August, a top Texas Military Department (TMD) official said. Maj. Gen. Thomas Suelzer revealed that Abbott had already given TMD nearly $290 million swiped from other agencies just to keep Operation Lone Star running for a couple months, from January to March. But, please, keep telling us how immigrant families are the burdens to taxpayers.
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“The mission has proven costly,” The Texas Tribune said. “In September 2021, the Texas Legislature approved nearly $2 billion to ramp up the border operation intended to curb the number of migrants crossing from Mexico.” But TMD “quickly burned” through funding because Abbott increased the deployment of Texas National Guard at the U.S./Mexico border.
Just over 4,500 soldiers are currently deployed to the region, and from the start of the political campaign have complained about late pay, equipment shortages while subjected to poor living conditions, and a payroll screw-up that could leave them paying huge amounts in back taxes. Several soldiers deployed by Abbott have died by suicide. Just last month, one soldier shot an unarmed migrant.
The political operation has been a disaster, yet Abbott has nevertheless moved funds from agencies that have nothing to do with this scheme to help pay for it, promising to pay them Tuesday for a hamburger today. “Last year, top state officials, at the behest of Abbott, transferred more than $1.3 billion to the military department to keep its border operations going,” the report continued.
But his financial shenanigans could turn out to be unlawful. Abbott (along with Florida’s Ron DeSantis, a fellow nativist) is currently under investigation by the Treasury Department inspector general after congressional lawmakers urged the watchdog to probe his very questionable use of federal coronavirus funds. Lawmakers said state agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Juvenile Justice Department “received billions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds,” but expressed alarm the right-wing governor “may be allocating funds intended for coronavirus relief to fund Operation Lone Star.”
You always hear that Texas is a pro-business state, but another Abbott stunt that forced commercial vehicles to undergo redundant inspections after crossing to Texas not only cost it an estimated $4 billion in losses, but Mexican officials decided to reroute a proposed commercial railway through New Mexico instead. Mexican Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier all but called Abbott too volatile to deal with. So instead, they’ve gone to New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
“We’re now not going to use Texas,” she said in a Dallas Morning News report. “We can’t leave all the eggs in one basket and be hostages to someone who wants to use trade as a political tool.”
That all comes as local governments in the Lone Star State “struggle to find workers,” The Texas Tribune also reported. Smaller regions are being significantly impacted. “Labor shortages are more pronounced in smaller cities and rural areas,” labor economist Pia Orrenius said in the report. “Smaller cities have such a hard time hiring because a lot of the younger people who grow up there and go to college may eventually leave and go for higher-paying jobs in the big city.” You know who could help? Immigrant workers. But Texas Republicans have already made it clear they’re not welcome.
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