EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Nine congressional Democrats are accusing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott of “possibly” misappropriating COVID-19 funds to finance Operation Lone Star.
On Monday, they sent a letter urging Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to investigate Abbott’s alleged use of federal money intended for coronavirus prevention and relief to finance a law enforcement operation at the Mexican border they say has been wasteful and shown little results.
“As you continue your oversight of Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds, we urge you to ensure all states are using these crucial funds for the reasons they were meant to be used,” the federal lawmakers led by Texas Democratic U.S. Reps. Joaquin Castro and Veronica Escobar said in the letter. “These funds are critical to help our state recover from the devastation of the past two years. Governor Abbott must not be allowed to use federal coronavirus relief funds to further his political theater at the expense of Texas families.”
Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in March 2021 in response to the surge in illegal immigration that he said the federal government has failed to control. Two months later, he issued a disaster declaration in 48 counties and sent Department of Public Safety resources and the Texas National Guard to combat smuggling, trespassing and human trafficking at the border.
The Democrats are concerned about Operation Lone Star drawing money from the American Rescue Plan Act intended for health, education, human services and the criminal justice system.
“Gov. Abbott is taking this funding away from integral public sector resources and allocating it to Operation Lone Star, which the Texas Legislature has already funded with almost $2 billion toward border security over the next two years,” the Democrats said. “It is negligent and irresponsible for Gov. Abbot to direct additional funding to Operation Lone Star, especially if the funding in question was intended to help Texans rebuild from the pandemic.
Renae Eze, Abbott’s press secretary and communications adviser, said the governor has worked with the Texas legislature to allocate federal funds in a manner that adheres to federal guidance. She added the state has been forced to use $4 billion in tax dollars to do the federal government’s job when it comes to protecting residents of the state.
“Rather than attacking Texas for responding to their border disaster — that they created and escalated in the last year — President Biden and Democrats in Congress need to stop playing politics and do their jobs to secure our border,” she said.