NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Illegal Immigrants Cross Over Protected Lands

July 8, 2014

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) oversees wildlife refuge areas, and many such areas are along the South Texas border.

These areas are causing real issues for the American border patrol, because illegal immigrants, including drug smugglers and human traffickers, are exploiting these lands to make their way into the United States more easily, writes Genevieve Wood of the Heritage Foundation.

Because of rules created by the FWS, the U.S. Border Patrol struggles to pursue and apprehend illegal immigrants in the reserved lands. For example:

  • Border Patrol agents are forced to drive exclusively on already established dirt roads that run along the Rio Grande River.
  • They are forbidden from going off-road or creating new paths.
  • If footprints are found, agents are limited to following the prints on foot or driving to another road and hoping to spot the culprits.
  • Agents sometimes struggle to gain access to protected lands. Often, it is adjacent landowners, not the federal government, that give the Border Patrol access to lands in the area.

Wood notes that allowing Border Patrol agents greater access to protected areas may actually help preserve the lands. Indeed, illegal border crossers pollute these areas and leave trash in the deserts, disrupting the environments of protected species. Furthermore, they also wreck private property, endangering the livelihoods of those ranchers who work to nurture the desert lands.

Source: Genevieve Wood, "How These Rare Species Are Making It Impossible to Keep the Border Secure," Daily Signal, July 1, 2014.


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