MAY 14, 2012
While the Department of Homeland Security claims illegal immigration has dropped to an all-time low the federal agency responsible for protecting national parks is boosting its workforce to prevent “a pathway of destruction” left by undocumented aliens crossing from Mexico.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is recruiting rangers from other states to increase patrols in a busy stretch of the Arizona desert along the Mexican border. Why? Because illegal immigrants are trashing the Sonoran Desert National Monument, the most biologically diverse of the North American deserts, and the Ironwood Forest National Monument, which is known for its historic archeological district.
Both sites are popular among drug smugglers and illegal border-crossers because of their remote locations and possible hiding places, according to an Arizona newspaper report. In just five months rangers have dug up 60 stolen or abandoned vehicles, 60 bikes and at least 24 tons of trash, according to U.S. Bureau of Land Management figures cited in the story. The rangers are armed and have helped arrest more than 1,200 illegal immigrants. Besides keeping watch, the rangers also lead cleanup efforts.
This has been going on for years, but logically the problem would improve if the number of Mexicans crossing into the U.S. were really at an all-time low like the Obama Administration asserts. More on those figures later. As far back as 2007, the Bureau of Land Management, which is also responsible for the trash cleanup, reported that illegal immigrants left about 4 million pounds of trash and human waste as they crossed through federal and state parks during their trek from Mexico to the U.S.
Cleaning up the mess is a never-ending work in progress that has already cost U.S. taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, according to government estimates. The huge piles of litter includes water bottles, clothes, razors, homemade weapons, food, ropes, radios and lots of human waste. The trash piles up at a much faster rate than it can be cleaned up and has proven to be devastating to the area’s natural habitat, according to congressional testimony delivered by a high-ranking U.S. Forest official several years ago.
The problem is so severe that Arizona’s Department of Environmental Quality launched a special state website dedicated to trash along its 370-mile border with Mexico. Earlier this year the agency’s director told state lawmakers that his workers risk their lives to clean up the huge amounts of trash left by illegal immigrants in secluded desert areas with rigorous terrain. The job is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous as illegal aliens use more remote paths to avoid stepped up enforcement along the vast U.S.-Mexico border, the director revealed.
While the nation’s once-pristine federal parklands are literally getting trashed by the high volume of illegal immigrant traffic, the Obama Administration assures that the undocumented population has dropped to its lowest level in a decade. This includes an unprecedented decrease of 41% in apprehensions in Arizona’s Tucson sector, the nation’s busiest portion of border for smuggling.
In fact, over the weekend Texas’s largest newspaper reported that Homeland Security officials credit a tough new Border Patrol program for drastically cutting border arrests to a 40-year low. Under the plan, known as Operation Streamline, all illegal aliens who are caught are arrested and criminally prosecuted rather than voluntarily sent back to Mexico or getting processed through civil immigration courts.
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