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Bill would require feds to reimburse Texas for border security costs


U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, a Republican from north Texas who served as Texas’ Secretary of State under former Gov. Rick Perry, has filed a bill to have the federal government reimburse Texas for its border security costs.

He introduced the Operation Lone Star Reimbursement Act on Feb. 15, named after Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security mission, Operation Lone Star.

The three-page bill would require the federal government to reimburse Texas for OLS costs incurred from 2020 to 2023. Texas taxpayers paid more than $800 million in 2020-2021, Williams says, and more than $2.9 billion in 2022-2023. An additional $4.6 billion has been allocated for 2024-2025, he said in a statement.

“Since [President Joe] Biden refuses to do his job and safeguard the American people, Texas has been forced to step up to protect our homes and communities, and we must be reimbursed,” Williams said. “Texas has spent billions to help maintain the safety and security of all citizens across the United States and fight back against deadly human trafficking, sex trafficking, drug and cartel activity, and seemingly endless unlawful entries that are draining Texas’ resources.”

The bill states the federal government “is primarily responsible for securing the borders of the United States at and between ports of entry. Due to the lack of action by the federal government, the state of Texas has been forced to continually appropriate funds to secure the southern border of the United States. Texas has taken these actions to help maintain safety and security for all citizens across the United States by protecting against the criminal acts of human trafficking; sex trafficking; drug proliferation; illicit movement of weapons and contraband; criminal organizations; and unlawful entry.”

The Texas legislature has allocated more than $11.6 billion for border security efforts over a four-year period, including to construct the state’s first border wall and install the state’s first marine barrier system. Texas’ OLS budget totals more than multiple state fiscal year budgets and more than what the Trump administration allocated to federal border security efforts in Texas, The Center Square first reported.

As Congress has allocated billions of dollars to secure other countries’ borders, and as Democratic governors and mayors have called on the federal government to provide financial assistance to deal with an influx of illegal foreign nationals, Texas taxpayers have solely funded Operation Lone Star – with no reimbursement from the federal government.

According to state Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood, who chairs the Texas House Appropriations Committe and helped craft the budget to fully fund OLS, federal appropriations for border security in Texas during the four years of the Trump administration was $1.6 billion.

“For the four years of the Biden presidency, Texas is appropriating $11.6 billion,” he said at a recent border event with Abbott.

Roughly $3.1 billion goes toward expanding border barriers and infrastructure, including continuing to build Texas’ own border wall.

Roughly $200 million is spent on transporting illegal foreign nationals to the six self-described sanctuary cities of Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles. The remainder funds Texas Military Department and Texas Department of Public Safety operations, Bonnen said.

Williams’ bill responds to requests Abbott has made for the federal government to reimburse Texas taxpayers. He has repeatedly said Texans should not have to do the federal government’s job but will continue to do so in the federal government’s absence.

Since Abbott launched OLS in March 2021, OLS law enforcement officials have apprehended more than 500,000 illegal foreign nationals and made more than 39,500 criminal arrests, with more than 35,600 felony charges, according to the latest data from the governor’s office.

OLS officers have also seized more than 467 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill more than everyone in the United States and Canada.

Abbott argues “every individual who is apprehended or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas” and the entire United States because of President Biden’s “open border policies.”

Texas has also transported more than 100,000 illegal foreign nationals who were unlawfully released into Texas by the Biden administration, Abbott argues, to six self-described sanctuary cities since April 2022.

All transportation is voluntary, the governor notes. Illegal foreign nationals choose which sanctuary city they want to go to. The number one destination of choice is New York City, followed by Chicago, Denver, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Los Angeles, the state said.

Texas has so far sent more than 37,900 illegal foreign nationals to New York City, more than 31,500 to Chicago, more than 16,300 to Denver, more than 12,500 to Washington, D.C., more than 3,400 to Philadelphia and more than 1,500 to Los Angeles.