Monday, March 15, 2010

Interior Sec., Ariz. congressman visit border

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (gree-HAHL'-vuh) of Arizona assessed the progress of homeland security projects at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on the Mexican border Saturday. Both men met with employees of the Interior and Homeland Security Departments and inspected border fencing and surveillance towers at the national park. When border security projects are completed, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument will host about five miles of pedestrian fence, 26 miles of vehicle barriers and 10 surveillance towers with cameras and relay systems that make up the virtual fence project. Salazar told reporters that deterring unlawful activity along the border is the best option for preventing damage to cultural and natural resources and minimizing risks to park visitors and employees. AP

That doesn't tell us much, however this article says:
Salazar said the issues are complex. "We have issues of drug cartels and lawlessness that need to be addressed. We have issues of security along the border and we need to make sure we're protecting our lands for people in the United States." Salazar said many improvements have been made since Eggle's death. Vehicle barricades, for instance, have drastically reduces(sic)immigrant traffic, he said. But he and Grijalva said they believe more needs to be done to improve security for those who work in the park.

So issues pertaining to drug cartels, lawlessness and border security "need to be addressed." I can only interpret that to mean those activities are still occurring and haven't been addressed. He didn't, after all, say these illegal activities "have been addressed." This confirms what the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, The Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce and rancher/author Steve Wilmeth have been trying to tell Senator Bingaman. Keep in mind 95% of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument has been wilderness since the 70's.

Salazar says vehicle barriers have "drastically" reduced "immigrant traffic" but that "more needs to be done" to protect monument employees. To that I have several questions: If the vehicle barriers have "drastically" reduced the traffickers why must more be done? Perhaps it wasn't so drastic after all. And why no mention of the federal agency that provides for out border security, the Border Patrol? Is it because they are not allowed to operate in the monument because of it's wilderness designation? Mr. Secretary, is'nt it wilderness that makes this issue so "complex"?

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