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The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear a lawsuit brought by environmental groups challenging the Bush administration's ability to expedite construction of a section of border fence near Naco, Arizona. Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club claimed the Administration’s waiver of 19 environmental laws was an unconstitutional repeal of federal laws. However, Congress in 1996, and again in 2005, specifically authorized the waivers used by the Administration to cut through bureaucratic red tape. The two-mile section of the fence in question had already been completed by the time the case was considered by the Court and turned down without comment. This year, the Department of Homeland Security waived over 30 laws and regulations in an effort to speed construction of fence projects in California, Arizona, New Mexico.On April 28, 2008, NumbersUSA Government Relations Director Rosemary Jenks testified before the House Natural Resources Committee concerning the waiver authority Congress conferred upon DHS and the need to stop illegal alien traffic across the border, which has severely damaged some of the most fragile, protected ecosystems in the United States. The following are excerpts from her testimony: “Among a long list of the devastating environmental impacts of illegal immigration through these protected areas are the following:  

Trash

  • The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) estimates that illegal aliens dumped more than 25 million pounds of trash in the Arizona desert between 1999 and 2005—that is almost 2,100 tons of trash each year.
  • The accumulation of disintegrating toilet paper, human feces, and rotting food has become a health and safety issue for residents of and visitors to some of these areas, and is threatening water supplies in some areas.
  • Birds and mammals, some endangered, die when they eat or become entangled in the trash.

Illegal Roads and Abandoned Vehicles

  • By early 2004, the Chief Ranger at Organ Pipe estimated that illegal aliens and smugglers had created 300 miles of illegal roads and ‘thousands of miles of illegal trails.’
  • More than 30 abandoned vehicles are removed from Organ Pipe alone each year.
  • Since its creation in 2000, more than 50 illegal roads have been created in the Ironwood Forest National Monument, and more than 600 vehicles are abandoned there each year.
  • There are an estimated 20-25 abandoned vehicles in the Cabeza Prieta NWR at any given time.
  • An estimated 180 miles of illegal roads were created in Cabeza Prieta between 2002 and 2006.

Fires

  • In 2002 in southern Arizona, illegal aliens were suspected of having caused at least eight major wildfires that burned 68,413 acres.
  • In May of 2007, illegal aliens set at least five fires in the Coronado National Forest over a 10-day period in an effort to burn out Border Patrol agents conducting a law enforcement operation in the area.

Declining Wildlife Populations

  • According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, mass illegal immigration ‘is a likely contributing factor in the dramatic 79 percent decline in the U.S. Sonoran pronghorn population between 2000 and 2002.’

“These are just a few examples of the massive environmental destruction being caused by rampant illegal immigration in southern Arizona. Similar damage is being done to remote, fragile lands in California, New Mexico, and Texas.

“There is only one acceptable solution to this environmental crisis: stop the illegal traffic at the border. That means we must build a combination of physical barriers and technological barriers that will effectively ensure that, in the words of the late Barbara Jordan, ‘people who should not get in are kept out.’”

Environment
border control
Asylum