Today, Representative John Linder announced his co-sponsorship of HR 2047. This bill, sponsored by Representative Michael McCaul, will authorize a dramatic increase in appropriations for Operation Stonegarden of the Department of Homeland Security. Operation Stonegarden (OPSG) is a grant program that provides funding to county level governments along the northern and southern border to prevent, protect against, and respond to border security issues. In addition, the funding will work to enhance cooperation and coordination between federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.
"It is easy these days to allow the bailouts, big budgets, stimulus packages, and fear mongering over a failing economy to produce a case of tunnel vision. It is important that Congress, and every American citizen, remember that there are many areas that require our vigilance. Efforts to control our borders and maintain our sovereignty should continue to be a priority. For that reason, I am proud to join my colleague from Texas in this worthwhile legislation."
During a March 31, 2009, House Homeland Security Emergency Communications, Preparedness and Response Subcommittee hearing, Arizona sheriffs testified about the need for drastic increases in funding. They told the committee that current Federal funding for OPSG is woefully inadequate when spread over both borders.
"For too long the Federal government has paid lip-service to controlling our borders. It's not good enough for Congress to talk about border protection, we must actively support the brave men and women patrolling our borders and enforce our current immigration laws. This bill leads the way by putting the necessary funding in place so that local law enforcement officers can work more effectively with Federal officers to truly be our first line of defense against illegal immigration. Today, we are spending billions, or even trillions, on projects that the Federal government has no business being involved in. I have been proud to voice my objections and vote no' on all of those. But securing our borders is a matter of national security, and national security is one of the few legitimate Constitutional responsibilities of the Federal government. For that reason, even as a budget hawk, I am proud to support the spending in this legislation. If the Federal government can't control our borders, the very least that we can do is support local law enforcement in its effort to do so."
The bill, if passed, will provide border sheriffs with the resources they requested to effectively carry out OPSG. This bill would authorize a nearly tenfold increase for OPSG from approximately $60 million in FY09 to $500 million annually from FY2010 to 2014.