As if it wasn’t bad enough that the United States Border Patrol is restricted by environmental standards from monitoring certain areas of the border by motor vehicles, other laws they must abide by even go so far as to dictate what kinds of an agent’s horses’ manure can be dropped.
David Aguilar, Chief of the United States Border Patrol, spoke at the Heritage Foundation yesterday about these issues. Here are a fews of his statements in full below (noteworthy passages are underlined):.
“About 40 to 44 percent of the land that borders Mexico are actually federally managed, environmentally protected land. I’ll start by saying we do have a responsibility to be good stewards of our environment. But the challenges that come are that sometimes we can not go into a certain part of our country and actually enforce border control because it’s a wilderness area, its protected, we have to be careful how we approach. I will tell you we’re working very closely with the Department of Interior, the Secretary of the Interior has commented to me on how we can better, devise our methods of operation and go forth and protect this country. Let me give you an example. I was chief of Tuson, Arizona for a period of time. During that period of time there were actual barriers where our officers could not get to the border in any kind of mechanized or motorized vehicle. We either had to ride horses, we had to walk or we had to basically fly in and drop out from the sky. All for good reason; we need to be good stewards of our environment. With that and the Department of the Interior, we have now come closer to being more efficient and more effective in how we operate in those cases. Now, I share this story at every opportunity because it gives you a sense of what we [miss]. There was an area along our nations border with Mexico called Sweet Water Pass. We were having a tremendous amount of problems with the flow of narcotics, the flow of illegal aliens coming into this country from that pass. We couldn’t get there because it was a protected area. Of course the smugglers, they didn’t pay attention to that. They’re not held, if you will, to the same rules, regulations and powers because obviously they’re criminals. We went to our partners in the Department of the Interior and said we need to get in there, there’s a lot of illegal activity going on, what can we do? We looked at motorized vehicles, couldn’t do it. We tried bicycles; we couldn’t do it because we’d be riding [through forests]. We finally came up with the idea of horses. We had used horses before in the country. Horses was great. But, we needed to put them in quarantine and give them special food for a period of two weeks so when they do go in there, their droppings don’t bring in anything that could harm the plants. That was my reaction. But, we also have to be aware that we have to be good custodians to our environment. Well, we got the job done. We did ship the activity level down.”