JUNE 06, 2007
American taxpayers will dish out $63 million to clean up 25 million pounds of trash and human waste left by illegal immigrants who cross through federal and state parks during their trek from Mexico to the U.S.
After three years of very costly cleanups, the federal government has barely put a dent on the massive problem which has ruined the vegetation and wildlife in this country’s most prized national forests. With the help of volunteer groups, the federal government has removed a mere 1% of the trash–about 250,000 pounds–from thousands of acres.
The litter includes water bottles, clothes, razors, homemade weapons, food, ropes, radios and lots of human waste. The trash, from millions of illegal immigrants attempting to enter the country annually, is piling up at a much faster rate than it can be cleaned up and has proven to be devastating to the area’s natural habitat.
As an example the government agency responsible for the cleanup, the Bureau of Land Management, figures that the 577,000 illegal immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol in 2005 alone, left about 4 million pounds of trash during that period.
This has severely damaged the otherwise pristine 1.5 million acres of national forest located within 50 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. Among them are Arizona’s Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and Huachuca Mountains as well as California’s Cleveland National Forest.
In Congressional testimony last year, a high-ranking U.S. Forest official provided troubling details of the devastating effects illegal border activities are having on federal land management agencies. Besides the trash crisis, the official told the House panel that 370 acres of U.S. National Forest burned that year due to illegal campfires.
Because Arizona’s Coronado National Forest has 60 contiguous miles with Mexico and therefore the nation’s highest incidence of cross-border violators, it has been the most affected. In 2005 the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector apprehended half a million illegal immigrants as well as 99,000 pounds of marijuana being transported through the Coronado National Forest.
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