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Creating a hostile enivronment for immigration enforcement.
Arizona’s new immigration law has been widely characterized as an unprecedented, racially insensitive assault on civil liberties. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) is leading the charge. A reliable mouthpiece for the cause of lawlessness on the U.S.-Mexico border, Grijalva has called for a boycott of his home state where 70 percent of the voting public supports the crackdown, according to a Rasmussen survey.
“The law violates due process, civil rights, and federal sovereignty over immigration policy. While I believe the courts will quickly overturn it, I am concerned that the damage to my home state’s credibility has already been done,” the congressman wrote in a recent editorial.
The outrage is real, the rationale is feigned. Grijalva feels slighted not because he has suddenly developed a concern for the constitutional order, but because the Arizona legislature has intruded upon his ability to scuttle meaningful enforcement efforts and facilitate illegal immigration.
There’s history here. Under the guise of environmental protection, Grijalva has introduced legislation that would restrict the movements of border security agents and create safe havens for criminal elements transporting illegal aliens and narcotics, critics point out.
Grijalva has proposed extending federal wilderness protection to approximately 84,000 acres of the Tumacacori Highlands within the Coronado National Forest, which is located adjacent to the Pajarita Wilderness that runs along the Mexican border.
This wilderness designation would effectively push the Mexican border 30 miles to the north of its present location, Zack Taylor, a retired U.S. Border Patrol officer, has observed.
Just as the linebackers of football team must mirror the shifting movements of an opposing offense, U.S. border security personnel must have the flexibility and dexterity to move laterally along the southern border, he explained.
H.R. 2593, the Borderlands Conservation and Security Act, would preclude border security officials from operating on federal land, while H.R. 3287, the Tumacacori Highlands Wilderness Act, would establish a wilderness zone at the precise point where one of the largest illegal entry points into the U.S. exists.
“Coyotes on the other side of the border know the national forest is a corridor to promote their agenda,” Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), said. “Having a new wilderness area placed adjacent to the existing corridor will just open the floodgates. Environmentalism is being used as a pretext to harm national security.”
Federal lawmakers who are genuinely serious about enforcing the border can audition for public support and state compliance by offering up new legislation that expands the scope and reach of border security agents. As it now stands, agents can only react to movements and incursions from the other side.
“Right now, it is the smugglers and illegal aliens who decide where the Border Patrol works, not the Border Patrol,” Taylor, the retired agent, said. “They simply move laterally along the border line once they are stopped in a certain area. Grijalva’s legislation would do great harm to our national security because they would restrict our agents from operating in key corridors and make it easier for smugglers to predict the movements of our agents and make adjustments.”
The Sky Island Alliance (SKI), an environmental group formed in 1991, has been the major impetus behind the wilderness protection legislation and is opposed to motorized activity in the Coronado National Forest.
Mike Quigley, the group’s wilderness campaign coordinator, does not view border security and environmental protection as “an either or choice.” The rugged nature of the terrain is a natural barrier against illegal crossings, he has argued.
Kent Lundgren, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO), is less sanguine about public policy measures that would remove agents from the security calculus.
“It is imperative that the authority vested in agents and their ability to defend our borders remain seamless and unencumbered,” Lundgren wrote in an open letter to policymakers. “It is obvious that a wilderness designation, the most restrictive of all federal land designations, along our international border would create adverse impediments in efforts to perform these difficult and dangerous responsibilities.”
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