A section of the wall along the Mexican border
A section of the wall along the Mexican border AFP

Any celebration from pro-immigration activists in Texas regarding the removal of razor wire along the southern border was short lived. A few days after taking down a section in El Paso, the state's National Guard began installing thing metal fence posts, as well as new rows of concertina wire.

The Texas Military Department told Border Report that the razor wire was "temporarily removed to allow the International Boundary and Water Commission access to mow and service the area," but that it always planned to install it again. "This mowing reduces vegetation and increases the ability to detect illegal activity."

Authorities said they increased the amount of security personnel patrolling the area while the fence was down, but didn't address a question from the outlet about a tweet from Governor Greg Abbott about the construction of a fence-like barrier in the area.

It was one of several related posts from the governor, who has been publishing images of large-scale work along the border, anticipating more robust measures to deter migrants from crossing through the state.

Anti-climb barriers have already been erected near Brownsville and in Eagle Pass. They are behind reinforced wire areas and "also has barbed wire and concertina wire attached as to prevent climbing over with a ladder or other scaling device," the Texas Military Department said last December.

It was always highly unlikely that taking down the razor wire reflected a change of policy by Texas authorities, which have been leading Republican-led states when it comes to cracking down on unlawful immigration and challenging the Biden administration's approach. Its border walls have immediately reduced border crossings in the areas as they forced migrants to walk many more miles in search of an easier way to cross.

Overall, the state has seen a a 74% drop in illegal border crossings since March 2021, when the state's Operation Lone Star began. The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Colonel Steve McCraw, said the results have come at a high cost given the high expenses on personnel and equipment.

To date, Operation Lone Star has cost taxpayers $11 billion, he said, as cited by Fox4 News. Most of that money has been spent on thousands of DPS officials and Texas National Guard troops located at the southern border.

McCrow said the Texas National Guard began a drone program in January 2023 aimed at reducing the need for large troop deployments to the border and future operational costs. He added that there are now 32 teams, including 74 pilots, patrolling the southern border.

Immigrant advocacy groups have raised concerns about the policy. One of the criticisms is that Abbott's operation is "racially profiling" Latino migrants at the border forcing them into a separate and unequal legal system" run by the state, according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

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