Americans would gain a powerful new line of defense against a spillover of border violence under legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. John Carter (R-TX), to dramatically increase the number of deputies in southern border counties. The Southern Border Sheriff's Community Impact Aid Act of 2011, HR 2217, would provide a new federal grant for counties from California to Texas that are within 25 miles of the U.S. southern border to immediately and permanently increase the number of patrol deputies by 30%.
Carter says while the Border Patrol does a superb job at the federal level with the limited resources available, only half of our 2,000 mile southern border is under operational control, leaving border deputies as a major line of defense against drug cartel violence, human trafficking, and potential terrorist infiltration. The former Texas judge ordered a field investigation of conditions on the southern border in 2010, which revealed that border sheriffs were expending up to 50% of their total departmental budgets on border related crime.
"The deputies patrolling our southern border are not just protecting the folks in their county, but the rest of us as well," says Carter. "They risk death daily to do so, for an average salary of just $28,000 a year, which makes them probably the most cost-effective manpower resource we have in the fight to secure our border from violence."
The Carter bill is patterned after the long-standing and successful Department of Defense community impact aid program for local school systems, which provides formula-based grants to counties for educating children who reside on property-tax exempt military installations. The Southern Border Sheriffs Community Impact Aid Act establishes a similar program within the Department of Homeland Security to fund a 30% increase in deputies across the southern border. The grant levels cover not just the salary of the deputies, but the full cost of their deployment to include training, vehicles, arms, and uniforms. In addition, departments will be able to access the funds up front in order to hire new personnel without having to wait for reimbursement, to guarantee an immediate surge in border law enforcement. The grants are funded in compliance with cut-as-you-go rules through minor reductions in DHS management operations, without impacting Border Patrol funding or other enforcement efforts.
Counties eligible to receive the grants are San Diego and Imperial Counties in California; Yuma, Pima, Santa Cruz, and Cochise Counties in Arizona; Dona Ana, Luna, Grant, Otero, and Hidalgo Counties in New Mexico; and El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis, Presidio, Brewster, Terrell, Val Verde, Kinney, Maverick, Dimmit, Webb, Zapata, Starr, Hidalgo, Cameron, Willacy, Jim Hogg, Zavala, and Pecos Counties in Texas.
The bill is the third major legislative initiative introduced this year by the House Republican Conference Secretary to improve border security, based on recommendations from the 2010 field investigation report. Carter in February introduced HR 800, the Ensuring a Legal American Workforce Act to mandate the use of the E-Verify program, followed in May by HR 2025, the Border States Security Improvement Act, which would pre-approve National Guard border deployments at the call of the respective border governors.