Of all the problems associated with illegal immigration on the United States-Mexican border, environmental protection is low on the list of priorities. It’s sad, because the constant cat and mouse game between illegal immigrants and the Border Patrol is destroying one of the most fragile ecosystems in the United States.
Trash piles high in delicate desert environments, in spots where 4×4 trucks tear through soil that takes more than a century to recover. Discarded vehicles and hundreds of new footpaths dot the landscape.
Unfortunately, Border Patrol operations are equally at fault. The agency is known to ignore environmental regulations during the thrill of the pursuit. Their high-power lights and low-flying helicopters deter an animal’s instinct to hunt. Couple that with their road and fence building projects, and we have a recipe for environmental disaster.
In effect, a number of animal species face potential extinction if this immigration madness continues. Species like the ocelot, the jaguar, the thick-billed parrot, and the pygmy owl, to name just a few, may become a distant memory in only a matter of time.
It behooves any levelheaded conservationist to consider the environmental degradation illegal immigration causes to American borderlands. At issue is a significant clash between human drama and an ecosystem without borders. According to the conservation organization Defenders of Wildlife, “illegal border crossings and enforcement activities along the border are placing a tremendous burden on federal land management agencies and causing long-term damage to natural and cultural resources.”
The forecast is gloomy.
The federal government plans to solve this international dilemma with an ambitious multi-million dollar border fence. Meanwhile, the ebb and flow of animal migration is permanently disrupted. Forever the wanton fool, George W. Bush and his buddies in Congress sought to bypass every environmental law on the books in order to install their border fence. It seems keeping Mexicans out of America is more important than protecting our natural treasures. But without a doubt, desperate people find ways around a fence.
In the end, humans almost always win the war on the environment, and the situation brewing on our border with Mexico is no different.
There exists an interesting bill in Arizona aimed directly at illegal immigration, and more specifically at the hiring of undocumented workers. Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona, boldly declared her dissatisfaction with the federal government’s stance on illegal immigration when she introduced House Bill 2779.
What HB 2779 essentially does is hold the employer responsible for the hiring of a legal, documented workforce. The consequence for violating HB 2779 is harsh: an Arizona business will lose its license if it known to hire undocumented workers.
At this time, there is no telling if HB 2779 has been effective. Like most things in regard to government, it sounds decent in theory but will likely fail in the end. What HB 2779 could do is stem the tide of humans trampling through fragile desert ecosystems. Whatever tools Americans can utilize to curb this insane influx of illegal immigration benefits our sensitive habitats.
I’ve been on the fence (no pun intended) for too long. It’s time I take a stance. I disagree with illegal immigration, and I am in favor of tough legislation designed to prosecute employers who hire undocumented workers. And here’s why: the environmental disaster on the border has to stop somewhere. If Americans make it difficult to survive as an illegal alien, perhaps then we’ll see an era of responsible, environmentally friendly immigration.
For the record, I wholeheartedly approve of legal immigration, the sort my great-grandparents endured all those years ago. It is senseless to destroy what is left of the great outdoors in pursuit of the American dream. Let’s approach immigration the right way.
For further reading, Google “On The Line: The Impacts of Immigration Policy on Wildlife and Habitat in the Arizona Borderlands.”
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