Press Release

Rep. Cuellar Announces $3,498,739 in Federal Funding for Border Security and School Safety in Starr County

$3,000,000 was provided by FEMA’s Operation Stonegarden Program for the Starr County Sheriff’s Office, and $498,739 was provided by the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) School Violence Prevention Program for Rio Grande City Grulla ISD

Rio Grande City | Tony Wen, Press Secretary (202-856-8750), December 19, 2023

Today, U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar, Ph.D. (TX-28) announced $3,498,739 in federal funding for border security and school violence prevention in Starr County.

$3,000,000 was provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Operation Stonegarden Program for the Starr County Sheriff’s Office. The funds will be used to pay overtime wages and purchase new equipment, including communications technology for faster emergency response times. Since 2008, Starr County has received $27,966,193 in Operation Stonegarden funding to cover extraordinary expenses incurred to reinforce border security:





2009 Supplemental


































$498,739 was provided by the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) School Violence Prevention Program for Rio Grande City Grulla Independent School District (RGCGISD). The funds will be used to install safety fences and control systems at RGCGISD, enabling a safer environment for the school district’s 10,000 students and 2,000 staff members.

“Every year, the resources provided by Operation Stonegarden assist our local law enforcement in their efforts to protect our border communities. By providing resources for more manpower and essential equipment, these federal funds allow our local law enforcement to carry out the necessary operations to enhance security along our southern border,” said Dr. Cuellar. “I helped start Operation Stonegarden in 2008 and have since secured nearly $28 million in Operation Stonegarden funds for Starr County. This has meant more security for the people at the border to feel safe at home, work, and school. As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, I will continue to provide the necessary funding our local law enforcement agencies need to keep our South Texas communities safe and secure. Thank you to Starr County Sheriff Rene “Orta” Fuentes, Border Patrol, and our local, state, and federal officers for their commitment to helping secure our southern border.”

Dr. Cuellar continued: “Additionally, the COPS School Violence Prevention Program helps equip our schools with the safety measures they need to protect our students. We’re seeing the results of that today right here in Starr County. Thank you to RGCGISD Superintendent Adolfo Peña, Jr. and the RGCGISD Board of Trustees for working with me to secure these federal dollars and improve school safety in South Texas.”

“I would like to thank Congressman Henry Cuellar and the federal government for providing Starr County with Operation Stonegarden funds that allow us to enhance our community’s security. We work jointly with our federal, state, and local partners to keep our community safe. The monies will be shared with our local partners; Starr County District Attorney, Starr County Attorney, Rio Grande City Police Department, Roma Police Department, Escobares Police Department, La Grulla Police Department and Brooks County Sheriff’s Office and will be utilized to provide overtime pay and equipment. These dollars go a long way towards our collaborative efforts to secure the U.S.-Mexico Border,” said Starr County Sheriff Rene “Orta” Fuentes.

“RGCGISD is thrilled to announce our receipt of the School Violence Prevention Program grant, a significant boost of approximately $498,000. These funds are earmarked for crucial enhancements in Access Control and Safety Fencing, fostering a significantly safer learning environment for our students, staff, and community. Our heartfelt gratitude extends to the entities that made this possible. Special thanks to County Judge Eloy Vera, State Representative Ryan Guillen, U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar, and the Rio Grande City Police Department for their invaluable support. Together, we're creating a safer and more secure environment for our sensational school district,” said Rio Grande City Grulla ISD Superintendent Adolfo Peña, Jr.