The House Resources Committee on Wednesday passed legislation that would allow the Border Patrol to pursue illegal aliens across millions of acres of public property mapped off-limits by federal bureaucrats to protect forests and endangered species.
The National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act passed along party lines 26 to 17 and will now be reported to the full House for a vote.
The dominant factor preventing agents from catching human and drug smugglers is limiting their access along the border region, says Rep. Rob Bishop (R.-Utah) the bill’s sponsor.
It also creates a secure corridor for criminals to travel through without fear of apprehension, and they are causing environmental damage as well, Bishop said.
‘People are dying on the border, animals are being killed, plant species are being destroyed by the drug cartels,” Bishop said.
“We can no longer turn our backs on the violence, environmental degradation and rampant criminal activity occurring on our public lands,” Bishop said. “Fires are being started as diversions and distress signs. Murder is taking place. Rape is happening on the border. The conditions are barbaric,” Bishop said.
“We have to do something. This bill is essential in moving us forward,” Bishop said.
The legislation blocks the secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture Departments from prohibiting or restricting the Border Patrol across any public lands within 100 miles of the borders with Mexico and Canada.
“National parks and forests have become some of the most dangerous and violent areas along the border, where shootings, robberies, rapes, murders, kidnappings and carjackings frequently occur,” according to a report by the House Natural Resources Committee.
In March 2010, Arizona rancher Rob Krentz was shot and killed by someone who had illegally entered the country through the San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge, the committee said.
Under current environmental restrictions, the Border Patrol agency is prevented from constructing or maintaining roads, using vehicles or aircraft for patrol, building fences, or installing sensors or surveillance equipment.
HUMAN EVENTS published several investigative reports earlier this spring detailing some of these rigid rules the Border Patrol was supposed to follow to protect some obscure species, such as the two-inch, bluish pupfish that live in the Quitobaquito Pond and spring channel in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument west of Tucson, Ariz.
The Interior Department blocked off a 40-acre parcel of land to Border Patrol vehicles because it might damage the berm of the pond or ATVs might accidentally cross over a channel.
Agents could use horses to pursue illegal aliens through the area, but only if they agreed to more rules, including scooping up the pony poop.
“Our border patrol tells us what they need is access, that’s the most important thing,” Bishop said.