Congressman Henry Cuellar's legislation, H.R. 915, better known as the Jaime Zapata Border Enforcement Security Task Force Act, today passed the U.S. House of Representatives 397-4. This was the final consideration needed at the Legislative Branch before the legislation is sent to the President's desk for signature.
The bill is returning to the House for consideration after passing the Senate this past September with an amendment. The Border Enforcement Security Task Force initiative, also known as BEST, seeks to enhance border security while reducing potential threats along the border by (a) facilitating collaboration between federal, state, local, tribal, and foreign law enforcement agencies to execute coordinated activities in furtherance of border security and homeland security; and (b) enhancing information-sharing among such agencies.
"BEST Units will help ensure that the Department of Homeland Security, along with its law enforcement partners at all levels of government; will continue to combat the threat of trans-national crime in the border region. This legislation will provide significant aid to the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement partners to diminish crime and make our border communities safer. I am very pleased to say that the BEST program originated in Laredo, Texas and now we have 34 of these units across the nation," said Congressman Cuellar. "I greatly appreciate Ranking Member Bennie Thompson, Chairman Peter King, and the Chairman of the Homeland Security Oversight, Investigations and Management Subcommittee, Michael McCaul for their support of this important piece of legislation."
The BEST program initiated in 2006, led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The program is based on partnerships between law enforcement officials and agencies at the local, state, and federal level. Its main purpose is to intercept and dismantle criminal organizations that threaten border security. The bill is named in memory of HSI Special Agent and BEST unit member Jaime Zapata who was killed in line of duty last year. Special Agent Zapata served at the ICE office in Laredo, Texas.
"I want to congratulate Rep. Cuellar on the final passage of his bill in memory of Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who lost his life helping secure the Nation's borders. His bill will help secure our Nation's borders and help dismantle criminal organizations by creating cross-agency teams to combat them. H.R. 915 received strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and House earlier this year," said the Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security Bennie Thompson.