Congressmen Henry Cuellar (TX -28) and Michael McCaul (TX-10) sent legislation to a vote in the House Homeland Security Committee which would help continue to lower allready historically low levels of violence along the border while also increasing interagency co-operation to enhance security measures.
The legislation is named after Agent Jaime Zapata who was murdered in Mexico in pursuit of drug dealers. The legislation is called Jaime Zapata Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) Act of 2011, H.R. 915, Essentially what this legislation does is allocate funds to enhance uses of The BEST Unit:
BEST units may be comprised of Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Coast Guard, and other law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, tribal, local and international level. The units will have authority to investigate, apprehend and prosecute individuals engaged in drug trafficking, arms smuggling, human smuggling and trafficking, violence and kidnapping along borders.
Below is further background information on the Best Prgrogram:
- In July 2005, ICE, in partnership with CBP, as well as other federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement officials expanded its ongoing Border Crimes Initiative by creating a multi-agency initiative called Operation Blackjack (predecessor to the BEST), to address the increased violence along the Southwest border with Mexico.
- In 2006, DHS formally adopted the BEST initiative as a DHS task force in order to leverage federal, state, local, tribal and foreign law enforcement and intelligence resources in an effort to identify, disrupt, and dismantle organizations that seek to exploit vulnerabilities along the U.S. borders and threaten the overall safety and security of the American public.
- The BEST Act of 2011 has been referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security, which Congressman Cuellar is a member of. He also serves as the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, which has direct jurisdiction over border security.