Tester announces new resources for stronger northern border security

Senator secured commitment from Homeland Security chief at May hearing

(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced new resources for stronger security along Montana’s northern border.

The Department of Homeland Security will direct $1.2 million to the state for “Operation Stonegarden,” an initiative to strengthen coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies along the nation’s borders.  The funding will be used for personnel costs as well as equipment such as radios, fuel, vehicles and surveillance equipment.

“This is an important investment in the strength of counties like ours, and in the strength of our entire country,” said Hill County Sheriff Don Brostrom.  “This funding will go a long way toward improving communication and securing the northern border from terrorism, dangerous drugs, and illegal immigration.  We appreciate Jon’s efforts in fighting for Montana’s northern border.”

During a Senate hearing in May, Tester questioned Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about suggestions that grant dollars for border security were being directed exclusively to America’s southern border and unavailable for Montana.

Napolitano assured Tester that resources would be available for northern border states like Montana.

“Montana’s got a border that’s nearly 550 miles long,” Tester said.  “That’s why it’s important that while America’s southern border gets a good portion of these resources, Montana’s border remains secure and isn’t ignored.  I’ll keep pressing to make sure that’s the case.”

Every northern border county in Montana has received funding through Operation Stonegarden since the initiative was expanded to include northern border security in 2008.  Funds reimburse counties for overtime pay, equipment, and other purposes.

The funds announced today will be allocated to Blaine, Daniels, Flathead, Glacier, Hill, Lincoln, Phillips, Sheridan, Toole and Valley Counties, as well as the Blackfeet Nation.