John Cornyn Update On U.S. Mexico Border Security

During a recent visit to El Paso I joined officials from the DoD, U.S. Attorney’s office, FBI, DEA, ICE, CIA, and Customs and Border Protection for classified briefings on the drug war in Mexico and implications for Texas’ border region. I also met with El Paso law enforcement and other regional and state law enforcement officials who made it clear that cartel and gang-related violence in Mexico has real implications for our southern border, with the threat of spillover violence now a fact of life for many residents along the border. Above all, they conveyed the urgent need for more law enforcement personnel on the ground and the necessary resources and equipment to do their jobs and keep Texas residents safe. With their helpful input, I was pleased to introduce the Southern Border Security Assistance Act of 2010, a targeted effort to combat the increasing drug and cartel-related violence along our border with Mexico.

The legislation creates a $300 million border grant program specifically for State and local law enforcement entities who operate within 100 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. It also authorizes state, county, city agencies, local police, and sheriff departments and associations to apply directly for the funding, which could be used to purchase helicopters, vehicles, and equipment, and to hire additional personnel to reinforce law enforcement already at work in the border region. The bill also authorizes the appointment of additional federal district judges in southern Border States to handle the caseload from increased criminal prosecutions along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Last week Senator Dianne Feinstein held a hearing, at my request, in front of the Senate Drug Caucus. I called for the hearing in order to discuss my bill and better inform my colleagues of the ongoing cartel violence along the border. In addition I met last week with President Obama’s nominee to head the Drug Enforcement Agency, Michelle Leonhart. I have written to the FAA Administrator with Sen. Hutchison to ask him to open up the necessary airspace to allow for drone aircraft to patrol the skies over our southern border. As it stands, there are no U.S. drones being used for this effort in Texas, and we would be remiss if we continued to let this important resource go untapped.

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