Home Don Beyer Calling It “Cruel,” Wild-West”-Like and an “Ineffective Political Stunt,” Reps. Gerry Connolly...

Calling It “Cruel,” Wild-West”-Like and an “Ineffective Political Stunt,” Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA11), Don Beyer (D-VA08) Urge Gov. Glenn Youngkin to End Participation in “Operation Lone Star”

"Almost 90% of all fentanyl enters the United States through legal ports of entry rather than through unauthorized crossings"

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From Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA08) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA11): 

Connolly, Beyer Urge Gov. Youngkin to End Participation in Operation Lone Star

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-VA),wrote to Governor Glenn Youngkin urging him to end Virginia’s participation in Texas Governor Abbott’s failed and inhumane Operation Lone Star. On May 31st, Youngkin signed Executive Director Four, deploying 100 Virginia National Guard soldiers and 21 supporting personnel to Texas for 30 days.

“We urge you to end the Commonwealth’s deployment of 100 Virginia National Guardsmen and 21 support personnel to Texas Governor Abbott’s ineffective and inhumane “Operation Lone Star,” the members wrote.

“Your administration has justified the deployment as an effort to improve fentanyl interdiction capacity, yet there is no indication that this deployment will meaningfully curb the transshipment of fentanyl into the Commonwealth.  Almost 90% of all fentanyl enters the United States through legal ports of entry rather than through unauthorized crossings, and often in the possession of U.S. citizens, not migrants,” the members added. “Our Commonwealth values human life and dignity, and our National Guard troops make a great sacrifice to serve our public and reflect our values. We respectfully urge you to bring them home and end Virginia’s involvement in Operation Lone Star.”

It is estimated Virginia will spend $3.1 million in taxpayer funding for this ineffective political stunt.

Full text of the letter follows and is available here.

Dear Governor Youngkin,

We urge you to end the Commonwealth’s deployment of 100 Virginia National Guardsmen and 21 support personnel to Texas Governor Abbott’s ineffective and inhumane “Operation Lone Star.” 

Your administration has justified the deployment as an effort to improve fentanyl interdiction capacity, yet there is no indication that this deployment will meaningfully curb the transshipment of fentanyl into the Commonwealth.  Almost 90% of all fentanyl enters the United States through legal ports of entry rather than through unauthorized crossings, and often in the possession of U.S. citizens, not migrants. On February 15, 2023, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Anne Milgram confirmed, “Our investigations do tell us that the vast majority of fentanyl is coming in the ports of entry,” far from where our Guard has been deployed under Texas command. This is simply not an effective use of Virginia resources to combat the scourge of fentanyl.  

While Governor Abbott brags about increased criminal arrests and drug seizures, reports reveal the Texas Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) metrics are flawed and manipulated to misrepresent Operation Lone Star’s success. Governor Abbott, DPS, and the Texas Military Department have also fought two dozen public records requests from news organizations seeking an accurate account of the operation’s accomplishments. That means Virginia will spend $3.1 million in taxpayer funding for this ineffective political stunt, an exorbitant amount justified with manipulated information. 

Further, we are deeply concerned by the cruel, wild-west nature of Operation Lone Star itself. 

Through Operation Lone Star, Governor Abbott has furnished makeshift buoys with sharp razor wire in the Rio Grande in the misguided belief that it would deter migrants from crossing the border. This dangerous and illegal strategy is being challenged in court by the Department of Justice. 

Additionally, as a matter of policy, officers patrolling the border at Gov. Abbott’s direction were ordered to treat migrants in an egregiously inhumane manner. A recent report revealed that officers involved in Operation Lone Star were ordered to push migrants, among them young children, back into the Rio Grande River. With temperatures at times surpassing 100 degrees, authorities with Operation Lone Star were ordered to deny water to migrants. A four-year-old girl who tried to cross razor wire was reportedly repelled by Texas Guard soldiers, passing out soon after from the sweltering heat. A pregnant woman had a miscarriage while she was entangled in the wire that was set by Texas officials. A fifteen-year-old boy broke his leg trying to get around the barbed wire. Most Virginians would be horrified to find out that their Commonwealth would have anything to do with government-sponsored cruelty of this kind.

Our Commonwealth values human life and dignity, and our National Guard troops make a great sacrifice to serve our public and reflect our values. We respectfully urge you to bring them home and end Virginia’s involvement in Operation Lone Star.

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