FederalImmigration & BorderIssuesRep. Tony Gonzales Files Bill to Increase Funding for Border Security Grant Program

Gonzales did not sign his name to a different border security bill previously introduced by congressional Republicans from Texas.
January 16, 2023
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Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX-23) introduced his own border security bill after becoming the lone GOP congressman from Texas to decline to sign on to the proposed border security framework outlined by Texas Republicans last month.

“Operation Stonegarden is a lifeline for our Border Patrol who rely on local law enforcement and sheriffs to support their efforts at our southern border,” Gonzales said.

“After two years of disastrous open border policies, it is imperative we have an all-hands-on-deck approach. The Security First Act will do just that by making sure our borders are safe, resilient, and adaptive to the evolving challenges along the border.”

In a news release last week, Gonzales’ office described the operation as a “grant program that allows local law enforcement to augment border patrol efforts at the southern border.”

Gonzales’ bill focuses on a grant program called Operation Stonegarden. It would increase funding for the program from $90 million to $180 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 through FY 2027. There is also a stipulation that $60 million of the funding every year must be spent to “procure technology and equipment, including communications equipment, sensors, and drone technology.”

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The bill would set up a trust fund for Operation Stonegarden and require money seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to be deposited into the fund.

There are also provisions of the bill that require a report regarding the “recruiting practices” of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security between 2018 and 2021. The bill, according to Gonzales’ office, would also direct the Secretary of State to study whether Mexican drug cartels meet the criteria for designation as foreign terrorist organizations.

In December, Republican members of Texas’ congressional delegation outlined a border security framework that included measures to crack down on human smugglers and drug trafficking.

That legislation focused on resurrecting many of the policies of the Trump administration, such as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, and more aggressive pursuit of deportations for those in the country illegally.

Gonzales criticized his Republican colleagues after a compromise with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20) prior to McCarthy’s ascent to the speakership. The deal included a stipulation to consider border security proposals.

“[I]f this insurgency caucus decides to put anti-immigrant legislation on the floor and masquerade it as border security policy, that’s not going to fly,” Gonzales said.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."