On Tuesday, the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted against accepting over $1 million from the federal government through a grant program known as Operation Stonegarden. Although the County has accepted the funding for years, Supervisor Richard Elias claimed accepting the money now would put deputies in the position of enforcing immigration laws.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created the program to “form partnerships with local sheriffs, highway patrol, and city and tribal police in 2003-2004. In 2009, Obama administration Homeland Security Secretary of Homeland Security and former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano testified before a congressional committee in praise of the program. She stated, “Operation Stonegarden grants direct critical funding to state, local and tribal law enforcement operations across the country.” said Secretary Napolitano. She was “proud to announce that the funding provides additional flexibility to ensure that our first responders are equipped with the resources they need to confront the complex and dynamic challenges that exist along our borders.”
Napolitano said the allocations reflected “President Obama’s increased emphasis on the Southwest border in response to cartel violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Based on greater risk, heavy cross-border traffic and border-related threat intelligence, nearly 76 percent of Operation Stonegarden funds will go to Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas—up from 59 percent in fiscal year 2008.” Napolitano claimed that Operation Stonegarden funds would be “used for additional law enforcement personnel, overtime, travel and other related costs in order to further increase our presence along the borders.”
The Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard praised Napolitano’s announcement of increased Operation Stonegarden funding. “Since the Mexican cartels have made Arizona the leading gateway for smuggling humans, drugs and guns, these additional funds are well-targeted,” Goddard said in a press release. “We are strengthening border security in several respects, which include forging a closer relationship with our Mexican law enforcement partners. This money will be put to immediate use to protect Arizonans and fight border crime.”
Nothing has changed since Napolitano and Goddard cheered Operation Stonegarden except the occupant of the White House. In fact, the negative results of illegal immigration made headlines this month when in January, Grant Ronnebeck’s father Steve marked the third year anniversary of the shooting death of his son. Grant Ronnebeck was working as a clerk in a Mesa QT convenience store, when he was killed by an illegal alien, Apolina Altimirano.
On Sunday, an Uber driver and an NFL football player were mowed down by an illegal alien driving while drunk.
The drug trade violence is primarily impacting the poor in southern Arizona. It is widely known that Mexican drug cartels have turned vacant houses in communities like South Tucson into stash houses. However, not long ago a drug bust was made at a “stash house” in a posh neighborhood in the area’s northern foothills.
Elias said he worried that deputies would work with ICE. At the same time, the supervisors were asked to give RICO funds to a program that pays women – some of which are suspected of being in the country illegally – to become community activists. The supervisors delayed a vote on that item when the legality of the expenditures was questioned.
“Pima County Board of Supervisors have been accepting the Stone Garden grant funding for all the years I have been in office. The board has accepted $5 million dollars in Stone Garden grants since 2013. The sudden concern regarding associated pension costs is shocking. Meanwhile World View space port deal was funded more than $17 million and between the Jan 8th memorial and the soccer fields there is $40 million budgeted. It seems there is always funding for the crony projects as core services are left unfunded. This decision is irresponsible and it will hurt the community as policing activities are cut to accommodate the loss in funding for the Pima County Sheriff Department,” said Supervisor Ally Miller.
According to DHS, Operation Stonegarden is intended to support Border States and territories in accomplishing the following objectives:
● Increase capability to prevent, protect against, and respond to border security issues;
● Increase coordination and collaboration among Federal, State, local, Tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies;
● Continue the distinct capability enhancements required for border security and border protection;
● Provide intelligence-based operations through CBP/BP Sector Level experts to ensure safety and operational oversight of Federal, State, local, Tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies;
● Continue to increase operational, material and technological readiness of State, local, Tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies.
Operation Stonegarden “funds must be used to increase operational capabilities of Federal, State, local, Tribal, and territorial law enforcement, promoting a layered, coordinated approach to law enforcement within United States Border States and territories.”