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Katko, Cuellar Propose Needed Improvements To Shadow Wolves Authority To Secure Southern Border

October 22, 2021

Katko, Cuellar Propose Needed Improvements To Shadow Wolves Authority To Secure Southern Border

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), today introduced bipartisan legislation to improve Shadow Wolves officers’ ability to stop illicit activity on Tribal lands. The Shadow Wolves Enhancement Act would allow officers to be reclassified as special agents with authority to patrol, investigate, and interdict activities along the southern border.

Shadow Wolves officers are part of a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) tactical patrol unit currently operating on the lands of the Tohono O’odham Nation in southern Arizona. These officers are known for their ability to track drug smugglers, human traffickers, and other illicit activity intended to traverse Tribal lands.

Shadow Wolves officers are increasingly performing investigative work; however, current hiring authority limits their ability to be reclassified in the appropriate job series, causing pay and upward mobility limitations. This puts the crucial Shadow Wolves program at risk of becoming non-operational as officers retire.

The Shadow Wolves Enhancement Act would resolve this issue, create pay equity for officers, and encourage the expansion of the program to other Tribal lands with the permission of the appropriate Tribal governments.

“Shadow Wolves officers perform critical duties that help stop drug smuggling, human trafficking, and other illicit activity at our southern border,” said Ranking Member Katko. “Unfortunately, it can be difficult to retain and recruit these officers due to pay and upward mobility limitations. Our bill prioritizes the long-term viability of the Shadow Wolves unit by allowing officers to be reclassified as special agents with appropriate authorities and pay. Every day, these officers carry out a difficult mission under increasingly challenging circumstances, and we owe it to them to ensure they are properly compensated.”

“The Shadow Wolves Enhancement Act will facilitate the advancement of additional officers to protect our border communities. By ensuring best hiring practices, DHS will be able to increase border personnel and bolster our security efforts against illegal activity on federal, privately owned, state and tribal lands,” said Rep. Cuellar. “As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I remain committed to ensuring that federal agencies have the necessary human resources to successfully complete their missions. I thank Rep. Katko for his leadership and look forward to working towards a more sustainable future for our border residents.”

Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced the bipartisan Senate counterpart earlier this year.

View the bill text here.