Huntington Beach

Joining ‘Operation Stonegarden’ is on the city council agenda

BORDER PATROL AGENTS with local police in Puerto Rico work together as part of Operation Stonegarden (U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo).

A proposed agreement with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department to participate in the controversial Operation Stonegarden goes before the Huntington Beach City Council on Tuesday.

Also before the council is a request to appropriate $369,000 in grant funding from the program.

Other parties to the one-year agreement are the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Newport Beach Police Department, Seal Beach Police Department and Laguna Beach Police Department.

Stonegarden is a program funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to partner with local agencies to work on border and coastal security issues, including smuggling, human trafficking and other border-related crime.

Partner cities would be reimbursed for expenditures including overtime, equipment purchases and management and administrative costs.

Supporters of the program credit it with aiding in the interdiction of millions of dollars of illegal drugs as well as providing local agencies with useful vehicles and other equipment.

However,  National Immigration Forum notes that “Critics have expressed concern that increasing coordination between local law enforcement and federal authorities undermines trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement, while draining resources from more urgent public safety priorities.”

Some cities, such as Tucson, have withdrawn from the program, and Pima County officials were rebuffed in their attempt to shift some of the Operation Stonegarden funds to services for migrants applying for asylum.

Also on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting is consideration of the ad hoc committee’s recommendation to “streamline and restructure” some city boards, commissions, committees and council committees.

Proposed for dissolution are the Huntington Beach Human Relations Committee and the Mobile Home  Advisory Board.

Additionally, the council will be asked to appropriate $500,000 in increased costs for the purchase of the city’s third police helicopter, and well as consider placing certain charter amendments – as recommended by the City Council Charter Review Ad Hoc Committee – on the March 2024 ballot.

The council will meet at 6 p.m. in its chambers at 2000 Main St. (at Yorktown Avenue).

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