Local law enforcement agencies receive additional border protection funding while federal agencies see cuts

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 6:42pm

Customs and Border Protection agents are dealing with budget cuts and furloughs, and El Paso area residents are fearing the worst.

However, not all law enforcement agencies are seeing cuts.  On Monday, El Paso County Commissioners renewed a nearly $700,000 federal grant for Operation Stonegarden.  The money will go to the El Paso Sheriff's Office, El Paso Police and Horizon Police to help with border protection.

George and Debbie Brenzovich live on a ranch in Tornillo where they constantly struggle with illegal immigrants trespassing onto their property.  Although El Paso Sheriff's deputies respond, they believe U.S. Border Patrol agents play a bigger role in making sure immigrants don't make it across the border to begin with.

It was just before 7:00 a.m. in October, 2012 when Debbie was home alone and an illegal immigrant showed up at her front door. 

"He opened the gate, came across the front yard and came to the front door. When I opened the front door, I saw a man standing right there. "I grabbed the shotgun and I told him to get the heck away from the house," said Debbie describing that terrifying day.

Debbie said the same thing has happened at least six or seven times in the past year.

"Another time, there were these two guys who opened the front gate and came across the yard. My husband went around the back with a shotgun and stopped them. When the sheriff's deputies got here, they actually told the sheriff's deputy they didn't think anyone was home and they were coming to break in," said Debbie.

Debbie and George said U.S. Border Patrol agents respond almost immediately, but it takes El Paso Sheriff's deputies longer to make it out to their property.   

"For the Sheriff to apply for Stonegarden funds, when the Border Patrol has all these cuts, is pretty well asinine," said George.

Customs and Border Protection is facing $750 million in spending cuts.  All employees face up to 14 furlough days, which means fewer boots on the ground to protect the border.

"It's going to affect us drastically. If you take away those folks, we know who else is coming through," said George.

George believes the federal funds should instead be applied to stopping illegal immigrants from crossing into the U.S.  A job he said is best left to Border Patrol agents.


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