Thursday, July 29, 2010

Joshua Rhett Miller, Fox News, Makes Huge Mistake On Border Security

Mr. Miller recently reported on S.1689, Senator Bingaman's bill which would designate over a quarter million acres of wilderness on or near our border with Mexico. In that report he stated:

"To address the border region's unique security challenges, they say, the legislation creates nearly three miles of non-wilderness buffer and an additional 2-mile "restricted use area" that would prohibit motor vehicle access by the public. But CBP agents will have access to conduct routine patrols and build surveillance infrastructure, as they would on regular multiple-use land. (Currently, the existing area provides CBP agents with one-third of a mile in which to perform their activities.)" Emphasis mine.

Miller seems to think the Border Patrol will have more access if the Bingaman bill passes. However, what he has written is not factual.

The lands under discussion are currently designated as Wilderness Study Areas (WSA). These areas are managed according to BLM's Interim Management Policy for Lands under Wilderness Review. That policy states, “existing facilities/uses which did not disqualify the area from wilderness inventory may remain.” The Border Patrol was regularly patrolling these areas before they were designated as WSAs and under the quoted policy continue to do so today.

So the Border Patrol currently has vehicular access to all of the lands, not to just "one-third of a mile" as Miller states.

If Bingaman's bill becomes law, the Border Patrol will have vehicular access to only 5 miles of territory, and will be denied vehicular access to 259,000 acres or 400 square miles.

The Border Patrol's ability to carry out it's mission will be drasticly reduced, not increased under the Bingaman proposal and Miller should correct his error.

Fox News has done an excellent job in reporting on how protected federal lands restrict the Border Patrol and threaten border security, so I was surprised to see this story by Miller which gives over twice the coverage to the proponents of wilderness as he does to those who seek a less restrictive designation (344 words to 160 words). I would have expected a more accurate and balanced report from Fox.

To really see what S. 1689 will do to border security and public safety, watch the short video The Perfect Drug Smuggling Corridor. There you will see the criteria for the perfect corridor (according to the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers) and how Bingaman's bill provides the final leg, much to New Mexico and our nation's detriment.

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