Starr County to get $3M in border security funding

A group of undocumented immigrants faces are outlined by a single flashlight from a Hidalgo County precinct 1 constable after crossing into the US near a brushy area in Hidalgo on Wednesday, March,24,2021, (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | [email protected])

Nearly $3 million in federal funding will be going toward border security efforts in Starr County.

This week, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, announced that the Operation Stonegarden program will be receiving over $2.9 million in federal grant money, funding which will impact Starr County residents, according to the congressman’s office.

Under Operation Stonegarden, local law enforcement agencies, including the Starr County Sheriff’s Office, assist state and federal agents with border security measures.

In August, Starr County Judge Eloy Vera said the program’s funding had temporarily been withheld due to auditing delays, saying then that funding agencies “put a vendor hold on any advancing of funds that we’re supposed to get reimbursed until our audits are complete.”

These funds will be used to acquire new equipment, including radio communication technology, for operations, as well as paying for overtime costs, the congressman’s office said.

Earlier this month, Hidalgo County was awarded $6 million in operational funding to assist local law enforcement agencies in the area, including the sheriff’s office, to support federal authorities with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol.

According to Cuellar’s office, the funding in Hidalgo County had exceeded previous years, which between 2018 and 2020 ranged from $4.5 million to $4.9 million.

Like Starr County’s funding, the grant went toward equipment and personnel in Hidalgo County.