By Erin Dwinell*
As the border crisis rages, each state feels its own financial and human toll from the influx of illegal aliens who get help from the Biden administration to make their way into the interior of the United States and into every congressional district in the country.
By 2021, Texans were already paying between $579 million and $717 million annually to provide medical care for illegal aliens, $152 million per year to house criminal illegal aliens in prisons, between $31 million and $63 million each year on education for unaccompanied alien children, and between $30 million and $38 million annually on perinatal coverage for illegal aliens through the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
One Midland, Texas, hospital reported in 2021 that the Biden border crisis cost it over $200,000 for the treatment of 40 children who crossed the border illegally over a two-month period after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services opened an emergency intake facility in its city.
In that same year, the Texas Legislature had to appropriate almost $3 billion to support the state’s border security efforts in the 2022-2023 budget cycle. For reference, in the past, the Legislature had appropriated $452 million across five-year terms for border security.
Operation Lone Star was launched in 2021 to “use available resources to enforce all applicable federal and state laws to prevent the criminal activity along the border, including criminal trespassing, smuggling, and human trafficking.” As of September 2022, the operation had cost Texans over $4 billion. That averages about $2.5 million per week.
And of course, we cannot forget the human costs. Human smuggling thrives in the Lone Star State’s Border Patrol sectors. Illegal aliens tragically die in Texas and other border states while making the trek into the United States. American citizens at the border see their property destroyed and neighborhoods overrun. And Border Patrol agents are assaulted and injured.
In just over one year of Operation Lone Star, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard apprehended more than 233,000 aliens; conducted more than 13,600 criminal arrests (apart from the crime of crossing the border, including 11,000 felony charges); and seized more than 3,700 weapons, $30 million, and 298 million lethal doses of fentanyl.
Remember that these state numbers don’t include the currency, weapons, and drugs pouring across the border that federal law enforcement seizes or that evade detection altogether.
Abbott has not been shy about assigning blame for the border crisis and requesting help from the federal government, as enforcing our immigration laws and securing the homeland are primarily federal responsibilities.
Even after President Joe Biden finally visited the border in Texas last month after two years in office, the governor’s pleas continue to fall on deaf ears. After the president said he wanted to see “peace and security” at the border, the White House ordered the streets of El Paso cleared of the illegal aliens living there before Biden’s visit in an attempt to hide the reality of his border crisis.
As Texas demonstrates, when the federal government fails to do its job securing our nation, states are left to single-handedly prevent illegal immigration and protect their own borders as best as possible—often at an incredibly high cost.
Texas has already taken several steps to do this. It has outlawed sanctuary cities and alien smuggling, dozens of local Texas sheriffs’ offices partner with federal law enforcement in an effort to protect their communities from criminal aliens, and the state attorney general has led the charge in suing the Biden administration for its illegal and disastrous border and immigration policies.
However, no matter how much legislation is passed or how hard officials work to enforce the law and keep citizens safe, the administration fights the state every step of the way.
Rather than leaving states like Texas at the mercy of the Biden administration’s radical, open-border agenda, members of Congress must answer the call from the American people and keep their campaign promises to step up and restore border security as well as hold Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas accountable for the damage they have done to our country.
*Erin is a senior research associate in the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation.
This article is part of an agreement between El American and The Heritage Foundation.
Miguel Ángel Camacho is an editor at El American, Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Literature, and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Creative Writing. // Miguel Ángel Camacho es editor en El American, profesional en Filosofía y Letras y actualmente cursa una Maestría en Creación Literaria.