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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Opinion: Abbott’s Operation Lonestar is a political ploy

Marthas+Vineyard+column+illustration
Martha’s Vineyard column illustration

In April 2022, Gov. Greg Abbott launched Operation Lonestar, a multifaceted border security project. One of the most notable aspects of the project includes sending migrants arriving in Texas to northern states with sanctuary cities.
This practice gained significantly more media attention last week when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made headlines for taking credit for planes of migrant workers landing in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, with no warning to residents.
DeSantis stated that he did so in protest of Biden’s immigration policy. Abbott has also been sending thousands of migrants from Texas to northern cities such as New York City and Washington D.C. in an Operation Lonestar project.
Republicans have celebrated Abbott and DeSantis for this strategy but it is something we should decry as immoral, impractical and unacceptable. This political stunt, which cost $12 million of taxpayer money, does little to help Texans in border cities and speaks more to politicians’ hypocrisy.
The most pressing reason this action is deplorable is that it is xenophobic and discriminatory. While Republicans may disagree with immigration policy, using human beings as pawns is unacceptable.
According to Brookings, Latino undocumented immigrants face harsher consequences for unauthorized entry than undocumented European immigrants and are often accused of being criminals and drains on the economy, even though research conducted by New American Economy states otherwise. Moreover, deporting these migrants to other countries to prove a point exemplifies the dehumanization of these undocumented workers in political discourse.
This country should note that this sort of action is not new. In the 1960s, a similar trend of white organizations in southern states sent Black families on buses to northern states with promises of employment and secure housing, calling it “reverse freedom rides.” It would appear that Abbott is mimicking the playbook of prejudiced organizations of years past.
This mission is excessive in the incredible amounts of wasted money. According to CNN, the state of Texas has paid $12,707,720.92 to Wynne Transportation, the charter bus company transporting migrants to northern states, since Aug. 9, which averages out to $1,400 per migrant. While the state requested donations for this program in April, they only received $167,828 as of Aug. 17, with the remainder of the costs funded by taxpayer dollars.
It is unbelievable that the state has spent millions of taxpayer dollars on this project when the money could have directly assisted the “overwhelmed” border towns that Abbott claims to be helping. Directing these funds to bussing migrants to northern cities does nothing to help border towns support the residents it currently has. If Abbott were genuinely concerned about the welfare of border towns, he would have instead used the money to help improve schools, housing or other public services.
Finally, the migrant bussing projects are highly unethical and possibly illegal. According to NPR, the migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard reported that a woman named Perla approached them at a San Antonio shelter. There she provided them with food and told them she was trying to recruit migrants for a plane ride to Boston, where they would receive expedited work papers.
This act is similar to human trafficking. The Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as “the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.” The website also notes that traffickers seek out victims who are susceptible due to reasons that can include economic hardship, lack of social safety net and political instability.
The DHS website defines exploitation as “treating a person unfairly to benefit from their work” and lists false job promises as a common form of exploitation. In addition, the example of modeling contracts warns the reader about common tactics scammers use, including “offers in remote locations, faraway states, and foreign cities.”
A representative for Abbott told the Chicago Tribune that the migrants on the buses to Chicago signed voluntary consent waivers before boarding the buses and that the state did not send them to Chicago against their will.
However, the tactics used by Abbott and other politicians fall under exploitation, as defined by DHS. In addition, the tactics employed by these politicians are eerily similar to those of human traffickers. These politicians use morality as a platform in the upcoming election cycle, and one of Greg Abbott’s campaign issues is working to end human trafficking.
Supporters of the bill state that sending these undocumented immigrants to other countries should not be an issue, as sanctuary cities should be prepared to care for the immigrants they claim to support. It is worth noting that many of the migrants in Chicago and Martha’s Vineyard have been provided shelter and donations by volunteers and community service organizations in the areas where they ended up. However, the exploitation of migrants seeking a better life does little to help overwhelmed border cities and instead serves as a way for politicians to earn cheap political points from constituents.
Some might say that the hospitality they receive is what the south is allegedly known for having. However, suppose Republicans are interested in helping to relieve the burden on border cities. In that case, they should invest the money used for this project into relief programs and social services to support the migrants and the state and city employees working to help with the population growth.
In conclusion, Operation Lonestar does very little for Texans. Not only is it unethical and cruel, but it is also a waste of taxpayer dollars and provides minimal benefit to Texans in overwhelmed border cities. If Gov. Abbott is interested in having an honest conversation about immigration, he should stop these seedy, immoral tactics.
-Tiara Allen is a marketing senior
The University Star welcomes Letters to the Editor from its readers. All submissions are reviewed and considered by the Editor-in-Chief and Opinion Editor for publication. Not all letters are guaranteed for publication.

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