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Operation Lone Star continues indefinitely while the Texas Military Department expands border wall

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks to the media about security on the Mexico-U.S. border after a briefing with Texas National Guard troops in Weslaco
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks to the media about security on the Mexico-U.S. border after a briefing with Texas National Guard troops at Sergeant Tomas Garces Texas Army National Guard Armory in Weslaco, Texas, U.S., April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

The Texas Military Department will soon begin building border wall infrastructure on private property in Starr County. They will also continue construction in the Del Rio sector where they’ve completed more than six miles of the border barrier.

“Temporary infrastructure and barrier is continuing to be constructed. I will verify that we are now doing it in the Rio Grande Valley without getting into specifics,” said Major Michael Perry with the Texas Military Department during a press conference Thursday.

These developments are part of a program Governor Greg Abbott launched in early March called Operation Lone Star. It was developed as a response to the migrant surge at the Texas-Mexico border.

Operation Lone Star has since redirected thousands of troops and law enforcement to border areas of South Texas.

At the press event, Lieutenant Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said they’ve been seeing much more movement around La Joya.

“We're starting to move resources to that area. We've always had resources in there. But now we're moving more resources, more troopers, more of our tactical operators,” said Olivarez.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Border and Immigration News Desk, including the Catena Foundation and Texas Mutual Insurance Company.

In the nine months the program has been active, there have been more than 160,000 migrant apprehensions and referrals by State Troopers, the Texas Military Department and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Abbott also began arresting migrants for criminal trespassing in mid-July and there are currently 1,126 people in custody in criminal migrant processing facilities.

Many of those arrested on criminal trespassing charges were released because their cases were deemed too suspect to prosecute.

Critics and activists say arresting migrants on criminal trespassing charges is illegal and unconstitutional because immigration is a federal issue.

State officials said Thursday that Abbott’s Operation Lone Star is set to continue indefinitely.

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Carolina Cuellar reports for Texas Public Radio from the city of McAllen where she covers business and border issues. Her position is made possible by Report For America — a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.