For the third time in only a few months, a federal report on Friday exposed how the U.S. government prioritizes environmental preservation over national security by keeping Border Patrol agents out of wildlife refuges that are heavily transited by Mexican drug and human smugglers.
“For years, Border Patrol agents have been prohibited by the Interior Department and the U.S. Forest Service from actively patrolling such areas because it threatens natural resources,” Tom Fitton, president of the public-interest watchdog Judicial Watch, following the release of the GAO report on Friday.
“Motorized vehicles, road construction and the installation of surveillance structures required to adequately secure the vast areas are forbidden because it could endanger the environment and its wildlife. In the meantime, Mexican drug cartels and human smugglers regularly use the sprawling, unmanned and federally protected land to enter the U.S. The areas have become the path of choice for illicit operations that endanger American lives and, ironically, cause severe environmental damage,” said Fitton.
The Law Enforcement Examiner obtained copies of the original reports — GAO-11-38 and GAO-11-117 — and discovered that environmental concerns took precedence over law enforcement and public safety concerns.
According to the GAO report released Friday, 40 percent of Southwest border lands are managed by the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, and coordination and cooperation between Border Patrol and land management agencies is critical to ensure national security.