EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott put a spotlight on his Operation Lone Star law enforcement efforts at the Texas-Mexico border ahead of Friday’s gubernatorial debate in the Rio Grande Valley.

Abbott and Democratic Party challenger Beto O’Rourke will appear in the first and only scheduled debate of the 2022 gubernatorial race at 7 p.m. Friday at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg. Nexstar Media Inc. will host and televise the debate locally in the Rio Grande Valley and 13 other markets throughout the state.

“Since the launch of Operation Lone Star, the multi-agency effort has led to 308,700 migrant apprehensions and more than 20,200 criminal arrests, with more than 17,900 felony charges reported,” Abbott’s office state Friday in a news release. “In the fight against fentanyl, DPS has seized over 336 million lethal doses of fentanyl during this border mission.

The operation began in March 2021, sending state law enforcement agents to South Texas.

The governor’s office on Friday also cited how Texas agencies have used buses to take migrants to Washington, D.C. and New York City, in attempt to bring attention to immigration and place political pressure on President Joe Biden.

“Texas has also bused over 8,100 migrants to our nation’s capital since April, over 2,900 migrants to New York City since August 5, and more than 870 migrants to Chicago since August 31,” the release stated. “The busing mission is providing much-needed relief to our overwhelmed border communities.

“Operation Lone Star continues to fill the dangerous gaps left by the Biden Administration’s refusal to secure the border. Every individual who is apprehended or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and the nation due to President Biden’s open border policies.”

Billboards announced around the debate location

Also on Friday, Texans for Greg Abbott announced the launch of a series of billboards around the debate site and the Rio Grande Valley.

“As Beto O’Rourke faces off against Governor Greg Abbott on stage at the debate, he won’t be able to run from his extreme liberal policies that are wrong for Texas,” Texans for Greg Abbott Communications Director Mark Miner said in a news release. “The Beto-Biden agenda of open borders, defunding the police, and energy jobs would destroy the Lone Star State.”