SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – A bill filed by a freshman congressman from San Antonio would require that all money seized from drug trafficking activities at the southern border be funnelled to Operation Stonegarden, a grant program that supports enhanced coordination and cooperation between local law enforcement and U.S. Border Patrol.
“Operation Stonegarden helps create a layered approach to border security and encourages a joint collaboration across all levels of government,” said U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales.
The Security First Act he introduced last week also would designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, which would give law enforcement the ability to cut off their access to financial services.
The Republican lawmaker represents the 23rd Congressional District, which covers more than 800 miles of U.S.-Mexico border.
“The challenges at our border are compounding by the minute and it’s imperative that our men and women protecting our border have the most up-to-date, sophisticated resources to do their jobs,” said Gonzales. “The Security First Act is aimed at making sure our borders are safe, resilient and adaptive to twenty-first century challenges.”
The bill introduced last week would double the annual authorization of FEMA’s Operation Stonegarden from $90 million to $180 million for fiscal years 2022-25. Gonzales says $60 million must be spent on technology and equipment such as sensors, communications equipment and drone technology “to ensure our borders are safe, resilient and adaptive to 21st century challenges.”
In his first speech on the House floor, Gonzales said,” Equipping our boots on the ground with sophisticated tools to do their job is exactly what is needed.”
Opponents of Operation Stonegarden say the program is being used to target undocumented immigrants.