On the heels of his recent visit and briefing on border violence in El Paso, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced legislation to help keep border communities safe, strengthen the morale and effectiveness of state and local law enforcement officers, and send a message to cartels that Americans will not give in to violence.
"For many in Washington, border violence is merely a talking point, but for those who live along our southern border it has become a fact of life. Talk is cheap, but talk means nothing until we follow through and deliver the tangible resources our law enforcement needs to keep border residents safe," said Senator Cornyn. "Our government has abdicated its responsibility when it comes to border security for far too long, leaving state and local taxpayers no choice but to pick up the slack to protect communities from cartel, gang violence, and cross-border trafficking. This bill will require the federal government to do its job."
"For communities along the border with Mexico, the threat of violence is becoming all too real, but the federal government has yet to fully step up and do what is necessary to take on these challenges," said Senator Hutchison. "This failure costs our state and local governments millions every year and puts lives in danger."
Based largely on input from local law enforcement officers near the Texas border, Sen. Cornyn introduced The Southern Border Security Assistance Act to create a $300 million border grant program for state and local law enforcement within 100 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, which will help quickly provide resources to purchase equipment, upgrade critical information systems, and hire additional officers. The bill also requires additional federal judges to handle the caseload from increased criminal prosecutions along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The new border security bill creates an expedited grant review and award process to give state and local law enforcement entities an immediate infusion of resources to support border enforcement activities. Under the bill, state, county, city agencies and sheriff departments can apply for grant funding to purchase border monitoring equipment, communications technologies, night-viewing cameras, laptops, vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and helicopters. In addition to equipment, the bill also authorizes the use of grant funds to hire and train personnel in prosecuting drug trafficking, providing administrative support, dispatchers, jailers,and cover overtime expenses. The bill also authorizes funds to hire additional judges for southwest border districts that handle significant criminal caseloads.