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How Texas Is Confronting Illegal Immigrants Adapting to Operation Lone Star

Townhall Media/Julio Rosas

KINNEY COUNTY, Texas — Five single adult men from Honduras attempting to avoid detection by trespassing on a private ranch were unsuccessful as the Texas Highway Patrol's Brush Team tracked down and arrested them on Sunday night. A transport van came by to take them away, but to be transferred to Border Patrol, they will be charged with state trespassing under Operation Lone Star. 

It is a scene that has played out in this portion of the Del Rio Sector since July 2021. Texas state troopers, augmented by National Guardsmen, track down and arrest illegal immigrants trying to avoid being caught by law enforcement. Unlike the families and unaccompanied minors who willingly turn themselves in to Border Patrol, these groups usually consist of single adult men. While traffic through Kinney County has been steady over the past few months, troopers, National Guardsmen, and local residents told Townhall they have seen fewer groups of illegal immigrants go through the area. 

It's not because the illegal crossings have stopped because the border crisis is finally over; instead, the human smugglers and traffickers have mostly figured out if you're caught in Kinney County by state police, you're not going to be released. Instead, the Texas Department of Public Safety has seen more and more illegal traffic move through Maverick County, just south of Del Rio. What human smugglers and illegal immigrants are about to find out is that the Brush Teams are operating in new counties.

"They're trying to take different routes, so they're trying to circumvent Kinney County and go down to Maverick County, but we do have access to Maverick County, so we are enforcing the criminal trespassing," Lt. Chris Olivarez, spokesman with DPS, told Townhall. 

Due to the unique circumstance of the border crisis, the state of Texas has had to get creative with enforcing state laws on people who fall under federal law enforcement authority. That is why the state has to get agreements with landowners to press charges against illegal immigrants trespassing and the courts to prosecute the cases. 

"We're still in the early stages, we're having those discussions, but we are planning on expanding ranch operations in May," Olivarez explained, noting DPS is working on deals in five other counties.

In the background, Olivarez said DPS is planning on encountering more illegal immigrants once Title 42 is lifted, which is why they are being proactive in expanding operations so they are better prepared for the expected influx. 

Since July last year, DPS' Brush Teams have arrested over 3,800 illegal immigrants for trespassing. Without DPS, many of those arrested would have likely gotten away since Border Patrol is not working the private ranches.

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