Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 7, 2006

DHS enhances state and local role in border security

Filed under: Border Security,State and Local HLS — by Christian Beckner on January 7, 2006

Sec. Chertoff was in California and Texas this week to make announcements that expand the role of state and local law enforcement in border security, a trend that over time could lead to a fundamental shift in the framework for staffing and operations on the border.

In San Diego, Chertoff announced a new program to crack down on human smuggling operations across the border, and noted that state and local law enforcement officials would participate in this crackdown.

In Laredo, Chertoff made two announcements:

First, the creation of new Border Enforcement and Security Task Forces whose roles will be to coordinate among federal, state and local officials for border security and criminal enforcement:

“These new task forces will take a comprehensive approach to dismantling criminal organizations that exploit our border,” said Secretary Chertoff. “The task forces will be charged with sharing information, developing priority targets, and carrying out coordinated law enforcement operations that will enhance border security.”

And second, the expansion of a program called Operation Stonegarden that gives states and localities additional flexibility for using LETPP funds for border security.

These all seem like sensible steps as part of the larger Secure Border Initiative. But integrating state and local law enforcement officials into the border security system will not be easy: there are real challenges in terms of training, intelligence-sharing, and funding, and there are clear legal standards that must be met to bring state and local officials into the process.

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