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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Resident commissioner co-sponsors DEA 2nd language incentives bill


Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón, top center, is shown with congressional colleagues.


By THE STAR STAFF


Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón and Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) reintroduced legislation this week to provide a cash incentive to agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with proficiency in languages other than English.


Specifically, the bill introduced by the two lawmakers – both members of the Problem Solvers Caucus – would amend Title 5 of the U.S. Code to grant the DEA administrator the same authority Congress provided to the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to provide a cash reward to employees of the agency with knowledge in languages other than English.


“When it comes to law enforcement, our most important resources are our agents. DEA agents undergo rigorous training given their increased exposure to high-risk situations,” González Colón said. “Therefore, it is imperative to retain experienced personnel and encourage them to continue to grow within the agency. This legislation seeks to fairly compensate DEA agents with proficiency in languages other than English, which is crucial to support DEA operations at home and across the 69 countries and the 92 foreign offices where the agency operates. I’m confident this legislation will help reinforce DEA’s mission, making positions within the agency more attractive, helping with employee retention, and recruiting capable personnel to combat drug trafficking.”


Peters, who represents California’s 50th congressional district (parts of San Diego and Riverside counties), noted that “DEA agents serving in San Diego and around the world carry out high-risk operations every day to protect Americans and keep drugs out of our communities. Their work requires a unique skill set, and proficiency in foreign languages is especially critical to the agency’s work.”


“The bipartisan bill we introduced today would use cash awards to incentivize DEA employees to hone their foreign language skills,” he said. “This will ensure we can retain experienced personnel and recruit talented candidates to pursue DEA’s mission.”


Compensation would be up to 10% of basic pay to employees who maintain proficiency in a language or languages required to fulfill their mission. Congress had previously authorized a similar incentive for FBI employees under Public Law 111-117.


González Colón, meanwhile, will continue serving on the House Natural Resources (HNR) and Transportation and Infrastructure committees during the 118th Congress. Both have jurisdiction over key federal agencies relevant to Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery and reconstruction efforts, supporting critical infrastructure, and other energy and environmental issues.


The island’s sole representative in Congress was also selected to serve as vice chair of the HNR Committee’s Indian and Insular Affairs Subcommittee, which oversees matters regarding the five U.S. territories, Native American tribes, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.

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