U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) gives $60 million in grants to secure borders

WASHINGTON — U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced fiscal year 2009 Operation Stonegarden grants—totaling $60 million—for 13 border states and the Territory of Puerto Rico to enhance the capabilities of federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to jointly secure U.S. borders and territories.

“Operation Stonegarden grants direct critical funding to state, local and tribal law enforcement operations across the country,” said Secretary Napolitano. “I am proud to announce that the 2009 funding provides additional flexibility to ensure that our first responders are equipped with the resources they need to confront the complex and dynamic challenges that exist along our borders.”

The 2009 allocations reflect President Obama’s increased emphasis on the Southwest border in response to the threats from cartel violence in Mexico. Based on greater risk, heavy cross-border traffic and border-related threat intelligence, nearly 76 percent of Operation Stonegarden funds will go to Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas—up from 59 percent in fiscal year 2008.

Fiscal year 2009 Operation Stonegarden funds will be used for additional law enforcement personnel, overtime, travel and other related costs in order to further increase DHS’ presence along the borders. This risk-based allocation of resources complements ongoing DHS efforts—including the Southwest Border Initiative, deployment of surveillance technology along the Northern and Southwest borders, and increased U.S. Border Patrol personnel along the Northern border. By the end of fiscal year 2010, DHS plans to add nearly 700 U.S. Border Patrol agents at the U.S.-Canada border.

This year, eligibility for Operation Stonegarden awards was expanded to include 39 applicants—24 more than fiscal year 2008—encompassing states with international land and coastal borders.

Secretary Napolitano made the announcement as part of a two-day visit to the Southwest border, during which she joined U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske to unveil the 2009 National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy; announced the formation of the Homeland Security Advisory Council Southwest Border Task Force; and met with state and local law enforcement and first responders to discuss issues affecting Southwest border states.

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