Lawmakers Introduce Several Border Security Bills

By Carlton Purvis

► On Tuesday, the Department of State released a document annotating its efforts to check growing violence attached to drug cartels and drug and human trafficking. The “Actions To Combat Trafficking in Arms in the Western Hemisphere” fact sheet lists eTrace agreements with Central America and Caribbean states, a $1 million grant to provide weapons marking equipment, and $2 million for assistance in destroying stockpiled weapons among their efforts.

► Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced legislation (S. 1257) on Tuesday to extend funding for the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission and fund health care services along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. “These infectious diseases affect American communities as much as they affect Mexican communities as well, so the movement of disease across the border is something both countries share a joint interest in helping resolve,” Maria Najera, and aide of Bingaman’s told Security Management. It would also authorize new funding for an existing Early Warning Infectious Disease Program (EWIDS) on the border. “EWIDS is designed to bolster preparedness for bioterrorism and infectious diseases… Amplifying our public health surveillance efforts at our border can help mitigate the impact of such diseases, as well as other bio-security threats, in the rest of the nation, “Bingaman told the Senate Wednesday. Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) introduced a companion bill (H.R. 2298) in the House.

►Part of effective border security operations is having established procedures for a wide range of scenarios, which is why Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced (H.R. 2235) the Child Trafficking Victim Protection Act to provide care guidelines for victims of child trafficking and females in custody of immigration. The bill would require mandatory training for any Department of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and child welfare personnel who could come in contact with unaccompanied alien children. The bill would mandate that children be given access to educational materials and at least three hours a day of outdoor or recreational activities while they are in custody. It then requires that they be placed in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement within 72 hours of apprehension. During their time in custody, the children must remain separate from all violent detainees and nonfamily adults. The bill would also require that female officers accompany female detainees at all times in DHS custody.

►As part of their regular duties, sheriffs in counties on the border are increasingly responsible for playing a role in border enforcement. Rep. John Carter (R-TX) introduced a bill (H.R. 2227) that would help compensate these counties for their “unique economic burden” as a result of a high level of undocumented illegal activity. At the maximum, the grant would provide 30 percent of a department’s fiscal year 2010 budget for patrol deputies. At the minimum, it would provide an amount that would allow the department to hire at least one additional deputy.
photo by jim.greenhill from flickr

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