TEXAS VIEW: The absurdity of stringing razor wire on the Texas-New Mexico border

THE POINT: Operation Lone Star is popular with many Texans, but it is a product of broader political failure rather than a border and immigration solution.

We have so many questions about Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive to the National Guard to string razor wire on the state’s border with New Mexico, it’s difficult to know where to begin.

On Oct. 9, Abbott shared a news story on X, the website formerly known as Twitter, boasting about the razor wire.

“This is on the border between Texas and NEW Mexico,” he wrote. “Migrants are entering New Mexico illegally then crossing into Texas. We are stopping it.”

In a statement to our Editorial Board, the Texas Department of Military Affairs reiterated Abbott’s social media post: “The Texas National Guard has heavily fortified the border in El Paso with 18 miles of concertina wire. We are now fortifying the border between Texas and New Mexico to block migrants who are entering New Mexico illegally and then crossing into Texas,” the statement says.

If Abbott’s concern is illegal entry, that ship sailed in New Mexico. Just what does a razor-wire fence between states accomplish?

If Abbott is revealing anything in stringing razor wire along Texas’ border with New Mexico, it’s that this is exactly why immigration and border security are federal issues; and while walls and fences and other barriers may have some utility in certain areas of the border, they don’t function as a deterrent.

In this regard, Abbott’s use of wire on the New Mexico border is reminiscent of his use of orange buoys in the Rio Grande. Those buoys span 1,000 feet, but the Texas-Mexico border spans some 1,200 miles. It is a symbol, not a solution. And although the focus at the moment is on the Del Rio Sector, four states — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — share a border with Mexico.

Operation Lone Star will cost Texans $9 billion by the end of next year — lawmakers are considering an additional $1.5 billion this special session for border wall construction — but there is little indication it has deterred the flow of immigrants to the United States, much less Texas.

In a statement on Tuesday, Oct. 17, the Texas Democratic Party called the razor wire a waste of tax dollars and said it will harm the environment and injure migrants. We don’t disagree, but it is also a predictable political response. Operation Lone Star is popular with Texans, and the Texas Democratic Party would be better served offering a compelling vision for addressing security concerns.

What has been needed for decades is comprehensive immigration reform and genuine coordination between Texas and federal authorities and, apparently, now, Texas and New Mexico. Going it alone often causes harm. Remember 2022, when Abbott ordered DPS officers to conduct inspections of commercial trucks entering the country from Mexico? That stunt cost billions in U.S. trade losses and 36,000 jobs, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Abbott would do well to coordinate with federal, state and local officials, but that would require a much-less political response.

Speaking at a recent virtual roundtable, U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez said, “I don’t think putting concertina wire in the Texas section of the Rio Grande and New Mexico is really going to solve anything,” according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

At the same roundtable, Jerry Pacheco, president of the New Mexico Border Industrial Association, said the influx of migrants has created the need for a new port of entry in New Mexico.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said of the razor wire. “It looks like some occupied zone or something.”

San Antonio Express-News