Granger calls for follow up meeting with State Department and DOD

Washington, DC- Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX 12), the most senior Republican on the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, held a security assistance hearing to focus on the Merida Initiative and efforts in Mexico and Central America to contain a surge in violence along the United States – Mexico border.  Subcommittee Chairwoman Nita Lowey granted the request for the hearing in late March.

In the hearing Granger reviewed the spending that was a result of the Merida Initiative – $1.4 billion in funding in supplies and equipment for the Mexican government to help stop the surge in violence along the border.

Under the Merida Initiative, the United States provided $1.4 billion in assistance, largely in the form of equipment and training, from FY2008 through FY2010. The four primary goals of the Merida Initiative are to: 1) break the power and impunity of criminal organizations; 2) assist the Mexican and Central American governments in strengthening border, air, and maritime controls; 3) improve the capacity of justice systems in the region; and, 4) curtail gang activity in Mexico and Central America and diminish the demand for drugs in the region. For FY 2011, the Obama Administration has requested $346 million in funding to help support the institutional reforms and rule of law programs to help Mexico crack down on international criminal organizations.

Funding for the Merida Initiative focused on:
•    Providing helicopter and surveillance aircraft to support interdiction and rapid response of Mexican law enforcement agencies;
•    Providing non-intrusive inspection equipment, ion scanners, and canine units for Mexican customs, the new Mexican federal police and    
the military to interdict trafficked drugs, arms, cash, and persons;
•    Providing technologies and secure communications to improve data collection and storage; and technical advice and training to strengthen the institutions of justice in order to improve vetting for the Mexican police force, to provide case management software to track investigations through the legal process, to support offices of citizen complaint and professional responsibility, and to promote the establishment of witness protection programs.

“In this time of out-of-control violence, the Merida Initiative is the kind of cooperation we need with Mexico and our allies in Central America,” Granger said. “Collectively, we are dealing with an enemy that is extremely sophisticated, even more sophisticated than the Columbian cocaine cartels in the 1980s. These drug gangs are international, organized, and show no mercy to their victims. We must respond in a smart, deliberate, and coordinated way that will strip down these criminals on all fronts and keep the violence out of borders.  I appreciate Chairwoman Lowey for responding so quickly to my request for a hearing on this very critical issue so we can make sure we’re doing all we can.”