Lummis Amendment Protects Border Patrol Access to Federal Lands
WASHINGTON, D.C. --,
Jun 2, 2011 -
Today, U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) fought successfully to amend H.R. 2017, the 2012 Homeland Security Appropriations Act, to protect U.S. Border Patrol agents from Department of Interior policies that block their access to public lands, frustrate border enforcement and create unguarded corridors for drug runners, human traffickers and other illegal border crossings.
“Every day our nation’s border patrol fights to protect our country against increasingly sophisticated criminal networks that produce and smuggle illegal drugs, and people, into America,” Lummis said. “Unfortunately, DOI policies have tied the hands of Border Patrol agents, who need access to federal lands to carry out their constitutional responsibility to secure the border.
“DOI policies have it backwards; our nation’s security should be our top priority. Inhibiting the Border Patrol’s access to federal lands enables criminal activity that impacts America’s border towns and filters up to states like Wyoming. The persistent illegal traffic is the real burden on the wildlife and ecology of these public lands, which we could protect more effectively if we just let the Border Patrol do its job.”
· The Lummis amendment would strike Section 547 in H.R. 2017, the 2012 Homeland Security Appropriations Act. Section 547 authorized the transfer of funds from the Department of Homeland Security to the Department of the Interior for environmental mitigation activities relating to border security. The amendment would have specifically authorized land acquisition by the Department of the Interior for environmental mitigation purposes.
· Section 547, by authorizing border security dollars for environmental mitigation, condones the litany of unreasonable demands being placed on the Border Patrol by the Department of the Interior.
· Federal public lands have become a chosen path for drug smugglers and illegal aliens entering the country. The Government Accountability Office has confirmed that certain environmental laws – such as the Wilderness Act and the Endangered Species Act – limit the Border Patrol’s access to these lands, leaving border patrol pursuit and activity subject to the whims of federal land managers.
· Examples of the onerous restrictions imposed by land managers include: claiming “environmental impact” on the part of the Border Patrol even when environmental damage is due more to illegal traffic; limiting the Border Patrol to foot or horseback pursuit even if drug runners have motorized vehicles; and limiting the placement of border security infrastructure in ways that leave wide swaths of the border exposed.
· The DOI has already demanded and received at least $8 million in border security dollars for “environmental mitigation” activities.