Republicans have introduced new legislation to secure the U.S. border that is located on federal land; the bill hopes to prevent environmental damage, crime, drug smuggling and terrorist threats against residents who live along the southern region.
The House National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-UT), House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings (R-WA), Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Peter King (R-NY) and Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced legislation to prohibit the Department of the Interior (DOI) from using environmental regulations to hinder U.S. Border Patrol from securing the border on federal lands.
As a result of DOI’s actions, federal open space has become an unpatrolled highway that endangers American lives and causes severe environmental damage along the unobstructed trek from Mexico to the U.S.
Last month Arizona rancher Rob Krentz, was murdered by an alleged illegal alien who entered and exited the U.S. on federal land through the San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge in which there is no border security, according to authorities.
This wildlife region lends itself to ineffective monitoring by the Border Patrol. In 2007, Krentz and his wife wrote a letter to members of Congress expressing concern about the increased criminal activity that was taking place along the border. The letter expressed concern that “we are in fear for our lives and safety and health of ourselves and that of our families and friends.”
“The gravity of the situation must no longer be ignored. This legislation helps ensure that DOI policies no longer enable dangerous criminals to co-opt federal border lands as their drug trafficking highways,” Congressman Bishop said. “What many fail to recognize is that allowing the USBP 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.”
The new legislation ensures that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Border Patrol are permitted to assert operational control over the border regions in order to carry out their mission as mandated by Congress.
“Effectively securing our borders against illegal entry is a matter of homeland security. Border Patrol agents spend every day on the front line – securing our homeland from terrorists,” said Congressman King. “Denying or limiting the Border Patrol access to public lands and allowing the flow of illegals, including potential terrorists, doesn’t protect anything. It doesn’t protect the public lands that the illegals carelessly cross, and it certainly doesn’t protect American lives placed at risk by terrorists who seek to exploit unpatrolled areas of the border.”
The bill sets out to free DHS and Border Patrol Agents from bureaucratic interferences that currently impact their ability to effectively secure the border on public lands.
“It makes no sense to prevent the Border Patrol from accessing these lands in the name of some future preservation,” Congressman Smith said. “The people – not the plants – need our protection now. By stopping the drug smugglers and human traffickers from trampling the earth and terrorizing our communities, we will preserve pristine areas for future generations to enjoy.”
The coalition of Congressmen are concerned with multiple agencies competing for control over the border region and want security to be first and foremost for all federal agencies.
“We all share the same goals of wanting to protect our environment and keep our country safe,” Congressman Hastings explained. “However, Interior Department land managers are waging a turf war along the border that is making it impossible to achieve either. Today, Rep. Bishop is leading us in introducing a common sense solution that I hope will have bipartisan support.”
Currently, Republicans are sponsoring the bill, but several Democrats are hinting at bipartisanship with this legislation.