Sunday, July 11, 2010

Memo Reveals Refuge Officers' Struggle to Secure Lands Along Southwest Border

As the threat of violence stemming from illegal immigration hangs over federal lands in southern Arizona, an internal memo from 2007 reveals that refuge officers have been spending most of their time struggling to deal with border-related activities instead of protecting wildlife habitat. According to the memo, which was obtained by, the Department of Interior warns that refuge officers are spending 100 percent of their time at Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife preserve and between 90 to 95 percent of their time in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and Leslie Canyon dealing with border-related activities. It also notes that the Cabeza Prieta preserve is spending 60 to 70 percent of its budget on border-related activities. This includes everything from apprehending illegal immigrants until Border Patrol can arrive, to cleaning up the mountains of trash -- about 500 tons a year -- that they leave behind. More than 1,300 miles of illegal trails had been created on the refuge by illegal border-crossers, the memo says. In 2006, more than 95,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended on or near refuge lands, the memo says. A spokesman for Border Patrol declined to comment, saying it wouldn't be "prudent to give comment on a three-year-old memo." But T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Council, the union for Border Patrol agents, told that the substance of the memo didn't surprise him. "Obviously, the impact of that policy is severe on our operations," he said. "When you can't drive in those areas, it makes it impossible to patrol and enforce the law, and it transforms it into a sanctuary for illegal aliens."...more

Let's remember that 803,418 acres of this 860,000 acre wildlife refuge have been designated as Wilderness.

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