EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott exulted the state’s economy and business environment during a stop in El Paso to inaugurate a new multimillion-dollar manufacturing plant.

“Texas is the economic engine of America, where entrepreneurs and businesses can come to this state and cast a vision and know they live and operate in a state where they can achieve their vision,” Abbott said.

He spoke at the ribbon-cutting for Schneider Electric’s new 160,000-square-foot building in Northwest El Paso. Three hundred people will make low-voltage boards and other electrical equipment at the facility, which will be Schneider’s fourth in the city. The French multinational company now has 1,500 people on its payroll in El Paso.

“Businesses like Schneider come to Texas in part because of the strategies that we deploy to make sure we have a low cost of doing business. We cut through all the red tape that slows down a business and we provide the best workforce,” Abbott said.

An employee works at the Schneider Electric plant in El Paso. (courtesy Schneider Electric)

The governor said there has “never been a better time to be a Texan,” with a $2.3 trillion economy and a budget surplus that will make an $18 billion property tax cut possible.

Demonstrators protest Abbott’s visit

Abbott did not publicly address a topic that drew about a dozen demonstrators with signs to a sidewalk across the street from the new Schneider plant.

The state has spent almost $5 billion in the past two years deploying Texas National Guard troops, surging Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and installing barriers along the Rio Grande to stem historic irregular migration flows.

Another $5 billion state appropriation is forthcoming for Operation Lone Star, which El Paso immigration rights advocates say does not work and has led to abuse.

Members of the Border Network for Human Rights hold signs demanding the end of Operation Lone Star outside a manufacturing plant Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was inaugurating in El Paso, Texas, on Thursday. (Border Report photo)

“For us, it’s clear that Gov. Abbott’s policies are not welcome in El Paso,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights. “Operation Lone Star is illegal […] and it’s causing a lot of harm. We have state troopers on our streets driving like crazy, causing accidents.

“We have Texas National Guard soldiers shooting at people. We have buoys at the river, we have barbwire. This is ridiculous, and he is spending our money. It’s going to be $10 billion now.”

Garcia said he witnessed an accident this week in West El Paso that involved a DPS chase of a vehicle suspected of transporting migrants. It’s one of dozens reported in the past year along the Texas-Mexico border.

The shooting last month involved a Texas guard soldier allegedly discharging his rifle near the Rio Grande at a man who required medical attention for a gunshot wound across the border in Juarez, Mexico. The case remains under state police investigation.