Senate Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Susan Collins today sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator David Paulison supporting Maine’s request for federal homeland security funding under the Operation Stonegarden program.
“Operation Stonegarden allows Maine’s local and state law enforcement agencies to work hand-in-hand with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to safeguard our border,” Sen. Collins said. “In the past, this grant program has led to successfully intercepting drug shipments and illegal immigrants attempting to cross the border between Maine and Canada. The continued funding will provide important resources needed to secure our border.”
Under Operation Stonegarden, FEMA awards competitive grants totaling $60 million among the 15 land border states. The federal funds can be used for personnel, equipment, and vehicle costs associated with joint border enforcement operations.
The text of the letter is provided below:
May 30, 2008
The Honorable R. David Paulison
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20472
Dear Administrator Paulison:
I am writing to express my support for the State of Maine’s request for grant funding through the Operation Stonegarden program. As you may know, Maine has been an active participant in the program. Since Operation Stonegarden was restarted in 2005, Maine has committed more than $2.5 million of its homeland security grant dollars to Operation Stonegarden activities. These grant funds have allowed state and local law enforcement agencies in Maine to build relationships with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and participate in operations that enhance border security. In 2007 alone, 19 joint operations were conducted with the participation of 17 different state and local law enforcement agencies. These operations resulted in 22,000 vehicle stops, 29 arrests and the issuance of more than 1,800 citations.
Maine has more than 600 miles of land border with Canada and there are only 100 Border Patrol Agents assigned to the state. With this lean federal presence along the border, it is critical that CBP partner with state and local law enforcement to address border security vulnerabilities. Operation Stonegarden provides important opportunities to solidify and expand the federal partnership with state and local law enforcement near the Maine border with Canada. Therefore, I support the State of Maine’s request and urge you to fully fund it.
Susan M. Collins