U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall today joined with a bipartisan coalition to propose a significant boost in funding for U.S. efforts to fight violence caused by Mexican drug cartels along the U.S.-Mexican border. The proposal was offered as an amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution (S. Con. Res. 13) along with Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME).
The amendment calls for an additional $550 million for federal agents, investigators, and resources to combat drug cartels and maintain law and order along the U.S.-Mexico border. It comes a week after the Obama Administration announced an initiative to redeploy more federal agents to the border.
“This amendment outlines a very aggressive agenda for securing the border region and shows that we are serious about protecting New Mexicans as Mexico continues to crack down on drug-related violence,” Bingaman said. “I am particularly pleased that this amendment gives priority to a law enforcement grant program I have been working to enact for many years.”
“Mexican drug cartels are fueling a war on our borders, posing a serious threat to our communities and law enforcement,” said Udall. “This amendment is a wise investment to help ensure the safety of our citizens by providing agencies necessary resources that will protect New Mexicans.”
The amendment includes $260 million for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire, train, equip, and deploy 1,600 officers and 400 canine teams to the border to significantly increase the inspections of cars and individuals leaving the United States.
It also includes:
• $10 million for Bingaman’s border law enforcement grant program, which assists law enforcement agencies along the southern border and in other high drug trafficking areas.
• $130 million to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for 350 full time investigators to work on firearm trafficking and money laundering investigations;
• $20 million for DHS to improve the tactical communications in the field for CBP and ICE;
• $20 million for CBP to modernize its database used to identify potential criminals at U.S. ports of entry;
• $30 million for Operation Stonegarden to reimburse state and local law enforcement for their participation in border actions;
• $50 million to the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency to hire an additional 150 investigators and 50 inspectors to investigate firearms trafficking at the Mexican border;
• $20 million for the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to better coordinate investigations between federal, state, and local law enforcement;
• $10 million for DHS’ Office of International Affairs and the Undersecretary for Management to oversee implementation of the Merida Initiative and to increase its staffing at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico.
The Senate did not vote on the Border Safety Amendment during today’s session. It is scheduled to be considered later this week as the Senate continues consideration of the budget.