Security along the U.S.-Mexico border can be a perilous thing, what with drug runners and illegal aliens sneaking into the country. Many times these incursions occur along lands managed by the National Park Service, places such as Big Bend National Park, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and Coronado National Memorial.
On Wednesday, U.S. Reps. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, Doc Hastings, R-Washington, Peter King, R-New York, and Lamar Smith, R-Texas, introduced legislation (attached) that essentially would block the NPS and Interior Department from enforcing The Wilderness Act or the Endangered Species Act along the border if those laws prevented the Border Patrol from doing its job.
The measure is short and to the point:
To prohibit the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from taking action on public lands which impede border security on such lands, and for other purposes.
On public lands of the United States, neither the Secretary of the Interior nor the Secretary of Agriculture may impede, prohibit, or restrict activities of the Secretary of Homeland Security to achieve operational control of the Secure Fence Act of 2006.
The Republicans' actions were motivated, in part, by the killing recently of Arizona rancher Rob Krentz, whose assailant was said to have entered and exited the U.S. on federal land through the San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge
"This legislation helps ensure that DOI policies no longer enable dangerous criminals to co-opt federal border lands as their drug trafficking highways," said Rep. Bishop. "What many fail to recognize is that allowing the (U.S. Border Patrol) to apprehend and deter trains of criminal traffickers will not only remedy weaknesses in border security, but also improve the health and vitality of our protected federal lands, which have been severely damaged by years of abuse from drug and human traffickers. National Security and a healthy environment are not mutually exclusive, however with current DOI policies, neither is being accomplished.”
This week's bonus Reader Participation question: Should The Wilderness Act and Endangered Species Act be shelved in the name of border security, or can the Border Patrol accomplish its task without trampling these measures?