Few places along the U.S.-Mexico border encapsulate the sheer performative absurdity of our contemporary border security paradigm as well as this spot on the banks of the Rio Grande in Laredo, Texas. In addition to the two surveillance towers—inexplicably situated less than 800 feet apart, despite boasting effective ranges measured in miles—and the Border Patrol truck visible in the distance in the center of the frame, there are two tactical military vehicles sitting here as well, both silent and unoccupied. These are Texas National Guard M113 armored personnel carriers, “deployed” in this Laredo neighborhood as part of Operation Lone Star, Governor Greg Abbott’s made-for-TV, $4.5 billion (and counting) domestic military operation that has transformed thousands of Texas state troopers and National Guard soldiers into de facto immigration police. In his tweet showcasing the arrival of the M113s in December 2022, Abbott explained that they would serve as “enhanced protection for our troops in the face of increasing cartel activity.” But things seemed to work the other way around when Colter got too close to the vehicles and was warned away by two armed National Guard troops who looked to be in their teens. Why was he approaching the vehicles? To better photograph the decals that have been displayed on their sides since they arrived in Laredo: the head of a horse on one, a Trojan soldier’s helmet on the other.