The House Committee on Natural Resources recently passed a bill to allow federal immigration enforcement agents to conduct operations without regard for environmental regulations along the United States’ southern border and coasts.
In a news release, Rob Bishop, chairman of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee, said the measure is “a common sense solution that addresses one of the prevailing issues preventing us from gaining full operational control of the border – the U.S. Border Patrol’s lack of sufficient access to millions of acres of federally owned land.”
The bill allows border patrol agents to maintain patrol roads, construct fences, install surveillance equipment and undertake other activities on protected land within 100 miles of U.S. borders.
Similar waivers have already been applied to certain border areas. Dan Millis, an organizer with the Sierra Club, told Cronkite News these waivers have allowed immigration enforcement agents to cause environmental damage leading to erosion and flooding.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency opposed the bill, stating in a letter to the House committee that the agency currently works effectively to secure U.S. borders while “respecting and enhancing the environment.”
Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, an opponent of the bill, does not expect it to pass the Senate, Cronkite News reported.