Gail Gitcho/Pearce: 202-225-4780
Chris Gallegos/Domenici: 202-224-7082
Jude McCartin/Bingaman: 202-224-1804
NEW MEXICO DELEGATION
For immediate release: September 25, 2003
PEARCE, DOMENICI & BINGAMAN WORK WITH STATE DEPARTMENT TO REINSTATE N.M. TECH ANTITERRORISM PROGRAMS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a bipartisan, bicameral effort to support New Mexico Tech and Socorro County, Rep. Steve Pearce with Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman have successfully worked with the Department of State to ensure that Antiterrorism programs remain at New Mexico Tech.
Until the end of 2002, New Mexico Tech conducted a Rural Border Patrol Operations course for the Department of State's ATA program under a cooperative agreement with Louisiana State University (LSU). In January, New Mexico Tech received word from LSU that its Rural Border Patrol Operations program was in line to be moved elsewhere.
Earlier in the year, the New Mexico lawmakers wrote to Secretary Powell noting that New Mexico Tech had invested significantly in the ATA training program, particularly through the construction of a state-of-the-art small arms firing range. In addition, they pointed out that New Mexico Tech provides an exclusive training area, which consists of 3,137 acres, for the Rural Border Patrol Operations program - at no cost to the ATA program.
Rep. Steve Pearce said, "The antiterrorism program will not only boost the area's economy, it also improves both bilateral and international cooperation in the fight against terrorism. I am pleased that the State Department is renewing their commitment with New Mexico Tech. Many foreign students will continue to receive some of the best antiterrorism training the United States has to offer."
"Ultimately, there was not a good enough reason for the State Department to abandon its mutually-beneficial relationship with New Mexico Tech, or the facilities the school offers to support the ATA. I am very happy that we have been able to get the department to reconsider. The State Department and New Mexico Tech have been, and will continue to be, good partners in this program," Domenici said.
"New Mexico Tech is and has been a leader in the fight against terror. In the post-9/11 environment we live in, we are fortunate as a nation to be able to tap into its expertise. I am glad that Secretary Powell came to see that eliminating this program at New Mexico Tech would have been a mistake. The fact that he has changed his position is good both for New Mexico Tech and Socorro County," Bingaman said.
The Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance Program was initiated in 1983 as a means of providing specialized training and equipment to nations facing terrorist threats. ATA is actively training police and security forces throughout the world to combat, deter and solve terrorist crimes in their countries.