Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, Arizona's only Member on the House Committee on Homeland Security, today helped pass critical legislation through the House to secure funding to expand the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) and deploy additional security personnel and resources to the border.
This funding had been stripped from the Supplemental Appropriations Act by the U.S. Senate late Thursday evening. Rep. Kirkpatrick bitterly condemned their decision, and has been leading the charge to ensure that these critical steps are not held up by a lack of political will in Washington.
She sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to restore the provision in the final bill, and just hours after the House passed the unchanged Senate version last night she co-sponsored stand-alone legislation to guarantee we can start making these improvements as soon as possible.
"I am proud we were able to get real action from the House and take a step in the right direction on the border by quickly passing this bill," said Rep. Kirkpatrick. "The federal government must stop the partisan bickering and start living up to its responsibilities -- unfortunately, we are more used to roadblocks than a path forward when it comes to border security.
"But this is only the beginning of what we need to keep Arizonans safe. Real security will take a much larger commitment of manpower and resources in the long run. At a time when the whole country recognizes how critical this issue is, it is hard to believe it requires this kind of battle and energy to get the job done -- but I am willing to do whatever it takes."
H.R. 5875 will now head to the Senate for their consideration. Rep. Kirkpatrick is calling on senators to take immediate action on this legislation to make up for their mistakes.
"The Senate cannot stand in the way of protecting our communities again," said Rep. Kirkpatrick. "We have had enough with the endless delays and failed policies endangering our state -- it is time for Congress to do what is necessary to secure the border. If they are truly concerned with our national security, they will put passing this legislation at the top of their agenda."
The original measure was written after months of pressure from the Congresswoman and many other Arizonans who have been calling for the Border Patrol to be expanded -- in May, Rep. Kirkpatrick introduced the Southern Border Security Act requiring 3,500 new Border Patrol agents to be hired, trained and deployed at the U.S.-Mexican border by the end of next year. In June, the Department of Homeland Security requested that the House add funding to the supplemental bill to tighten security along the borders, and the House responded by including significant funding as part of the original act.
H.R. 5875 preserves that support, which allows for 1,200 new USBP agents and additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, establishes new forward operating bases for the Border Patrol, strengthens assistance for local law enforcement through Operation Stonegarden, makes it possible to purchase two new unmanned aerial systems ("drones") and bolsters Justice Department programs aimed at combating Mexican drug cartel activities.