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Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

Reps. Katko, Cuellar propose improvements to Shadow Wolves authority

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U.S. Reps. John Katko (R-NY) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) introduced bipartisan legislation Friday that would 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, giving them the authority to patrol, investigate and interdict activities along the U.S. southern border. Katko, the ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said the Shadow Wolves are already performing critical duties to secure the border.

“Shadow Wolves officers perform critical duties that help stop drug smuggling, human trafficking, and other illicit activity at our southern border,” Katko said. “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.”

Shadow Wolves are part of a Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) tactical unit operating on the land of the Tohono O’odham Nation in Southern Arizona. The officers are known for their ability to track drug smugglers, human traffickers, and others on tribal lands.

Shadow Wolves officers are increasingly performing investigative work, the Congressmen said, but the program is at risk of becoming non-operational as officers retire.

“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,” Cuellar said. “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.”

U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) introduced sister legislation in the Senate earlier this year.