U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will visit Texas’ border with Mexico on Thursday when she meets with customs and local law enforcement officials in Laredo.
She's visiting in a storm of heavy criticism from Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn over what they see as the Obama administration’s lackadaisical efforts to secure the state's border. Napolitano will be in Laredo, home to the country’s largest inland port on the U.S. border with Mexico, to announce the current fiscal year’s Operation Stonegarden grants, according to a statement released today. The federal monies are intended to supplement local and state law enforcement initiatives on the border.
The grant money was part of a recent back-and-forth between a group of Texas border congressmen and Perry. Five Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote Perry and decried how the governor has allocated federal monies to the border. Perry said his hands were tied because the federal grants come with conditions. Of the Stonegarden monies, he said, “It would be very helpful if border-area law enforcement agencies were freed to use the Stonegarden funds to hire officers with no federal strings attached. In my April 2009 letter to Secretary Napolitano I requested that DHS remove a federal requirement that any local law enforcement positions created must be retained after funding has been exhausted.”
Napolitano will meet with leaders at Texas A&M International University and is also scheduled to tour the international ports during her visit.