Besieged Texas sheriffs vowed yesterday to press the White House and Congress to deliver emergency assistance to law enforcement officers battling drug cartels along the Mexican border to match the $400 million on its way to Mexico, reports the Houston Chronicle. The sheriffs said are frustrated that the U.S. agreed to aid Mexico, as part of the Merida Initiative, without offering additional federal help to their departments.
Sheriffs will seek direct federal assistance, as well as changes in Department of Homeland Security restrictions to permit local law enforcement departments to use homeland security funds to hire additional officers. Implementation of the Merida Initiative is ”really disappointing and disheartening because Washington seems totally oblivious to what we’re facing on the Mexican border,” said Webb County Sheriff Rick Flores, chairman of the 19-county Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition. Flores, who said he has faced death threats three times in the past three years, has received $1.8 million in federal assistance over 36 months. He said he needed $14.5 million in additional federal help over the next five years to hire 25 new deputies to join his hard-pressed department of 37 deputies.