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Patrolling the border with a Texas state trooper

On border patrol with a Texas state trooper
Patrolling the border with a Texas state trooper 04:54

As border security emerges as a central issue in the 2024 presidential campaign, a stretch along the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas has become the epicenter of conflict between the state and the federal government. 

For the last three years, the centerpiece of Texas' border security efforts has been Operation Lone Star, Gov. Greg Abbott's controversial initiative that aims to deter the record numbers of illegal border crossings. Operation Lone Star has deployed thousands of state police and National Guard soldiers to the border. 

So far, Gov. Abbott has committed more than $11 billion to Operation Lone Star. In an interview with 60 Minutes, Abbott argued that the investment has been worth it — and that he is not trying to deviate from federal immigration laws.

"Texas is not trying to impose its own law," Abbott said. "We're simply trying to enforce the law that says that you cannot cross the border illegally, and if you do, you must be detained."

On a recent trip to the border, 60 Minutes correspondent Cecilia Vega went on a ride-along with Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Jaclyn Gooding, who said most of her work is now border-related.

Patrolling the border with a Texas state trooper
Cecilia Vega and Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Jaclyn Gooding 60 Minutes

"Operation Lone Star has changed our role tremendously," Gooding said. "We went from normal highway patrol things, like stopping cars for traffic infraction, working crashes, looking for driving while intoxicated drivers. And now, we still cover all those things, but we're also enforcing different laws that have to do with human smuggling more so than we've ever seen in the past."

Gooding acknowledged that stopping illegal immigration and the smugglers who profit from it is the job of the U.S. Border Patrol. But as a state trooper, she said she sees her job as serving Texas. 

"I think that it's just all entangled together at this point in time," she said. 

Gooding told Vega that state troopers stationed along the border are often far from their homes and working long hours. Extended shifts — including seven straight days and 12 to 15 hours a day — are not uncommon. 

"It is very overwhelming," Gooding said. "It feels in a lot of ways … like there's no light at the end of the tunnel right now."

The video above was originally published on March 3, 2024 and was produced by Brit McCandless Farmer. It was edited by Sarah Shafer Prediger. 

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