By Rep. Ciro D. Rodriguez (D-TX)
June 12, 2007 (H6283-H6284)
My first and most important objective that I would like to address is regarding homeland security grants that would hopefully help the border cities and the law enforcement personnel that are on the border such as the police and the sheriff, the first responders, for stemming the tide of drug and human trafficking along our border. Chairman Price was instrumental in working with me and helping us to obtain $15 million for funding for Operation Stonegarden, a program that this administration failed to seek funding for and which had previously been funded in 2006.
Operation Stonegarden began as a successful pilot program in 2005 and helped 14 border States on these issues. The initiative gave the States the flexibility that the Department grants provided to enhance coordination among not only the States but local community and Federal law enforcement agencies that are drastically needed. This pilot program resulted in an estimated 214 State, local, and tribal agencies working 36,755 man-days on various public safety as well as border security operations on the border.
The budgetary constraints imposed on the committee precluded more funding in this area, but the bill language sends a clear message that programs such as Stonegarden are viable and will serve as a funding aid to the law enforcement communities along the border.
Stonegarden did not receive funding last year. The funding assists local authorities with operational costs and equipment purchases that contribute to border security. The funds are intended to be used for operations involving both narcotics and human trafficking.
The second objective regarding the fencing and the barriers that are necessary, I want to thank the chairman also for working with us in making sure we provide these types of barriers in an appropriate manner.
I believe that the bill reported by the full committee and under consideration by the full House represents the most viable approach that can be utilized. I want to thank the chairman for allowing us to be able to present this bill. And as you well know, Mr. Chairman, this is a bill that is critical, an area that we have been lacking in this country where the administration has failed to provide the appropriate resources on the border. So I want to thank the chairman for allowing us to do that.