(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) wrote to United States Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to make funding available quickly to help northern border communities deal with the costs of protecting the border. Just last month, Senator Murray was able to include $3 million in funding for the Northern Border Prosecution Initiative in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. The Northern Border Prosecution Initiative, which Senator Murray established, helps local communities manage the financial burden as they prosecute crimes that originated from federal law enforcement on the northern border.
“The Northern Border Prosecution Initiative reduces the financial burden on states and counties that prosecute federally initiated but declined cases,” Senator Murray wrote. “Whatcom County, in Washington state, spends approximately $2 million dollars every year to prosecute crimes that result from its proximity to the U.S.-Canada border. This is money that could be used for other worthy programs and projects in the community.”
In her letter, Senator Murray asked that the Attorney General to move quickly to implement a system to process and distribute applications for the funding she secured. It is particularly important that the Department of Justice (DOJ) move quickly with the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia approaching. During this time, communities on the U.S. – Canada border region will likely face increased costs from prosecuting border-related crimes.
A copy of the letter follows:
March 24, 2009
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Holder:
I urge you to implement the funding mechanism for the Northern Border Prosecution Initiative as quickly as possible. The Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill includes $3 million for this important Initiative.
The Northern Border Prosecution Initiative reduces the financial burden on states and counties that prosecute federally initiated but declined cases. Specifically, a large number of prosecutions in northern border communities originate from federal law enforcement enforcing federal statutes. When the U.S. Attorney’s Office declines to prosecute these cases under federal law, states and counties prosecute them under state law. Whatcom County, in Washington state, spends approximately $2 million dollars every year to prosecute crimes that result from its proximity to the U.S.-Canada border. This is money that could be used for other worthy programs and projects in the community. In effect, the taxpayers in Whatcom County subsidize the security of the United States. This Initiative helps defray some of these local costs for apprehending dangerous criminals and preventing important homeland security cases from falling through the cracks.
Congress originally funded the creation of a viable program in fiscal year 2008 that was intended to be modeled on an existing program along the Southwest Border. Unfortunately, the previous administration never released the mechanism for local communities to apply for funding. I urge you to implement this mechanism and provide immediate assistance to these communities who bear a disproportionate burden of securing our nation.
I look forward to working with you on this issue and will be following up with your office on the progress of this implementation.
United States Senator