We have now written 48 blogs—one for each of the federal laws waived to expedite construction of an impenetrable wall on our southern border. The Department of Homeland Security has waived laws that protect us from water, air, and hazardous waste pollution. Laws that protect our National Parks, Wildlife Refuges, and endangered species were waived. Laws that protect and conserve antiquities that teach us about the prehistoric human cultures and animals that roamed our borderlands were waived. Laws that protect our wild rivers and historic sites for the enjoyment of future generations were waived. Laws that protect the use of taxpayer’s money were waived. And yes, even laws that protect our first amendment right to freely exercise our religious beliefs were waived. Also lost with the waivers is our avenue, as citizens, to comment on and influence proposed government actions on federal lands.
Friends of the Sonoran Desert is NOT against border security. We believe all countries have the right to defend their borders and decide their own immigration policies. What we oppose are border security techniques that are marginally effective, hugely expensive, and harmful to the human populations and species of wildlife that come into contact with them. Solid, impenetrable walls have been used for a long time—the Great Wall of China was completed around 221 B.C. Has technology really not improved since then?
We would like to share what we know about smart border security and make recommendations that reflect our 21st century improvements in technology. First, we understand why the Border Patrol wants pedestrian walls in urban areas. It is too easy for would-be crossers to quickly disappear into buildings or among pedestrians. Let’s keep those barriers.
In rural areas, humans are pretty savvy about finding ways to climb over walls or dig tunnels beneath them. Walls in remote areas, therefore, are more likely to keep Sonoran pronghorn or black-tailed jackrabbits from crossing the border than people. We probably don’t need a wall costing billions of dollars to keep jackrabbits on our side of the border.
Vehicle barriers in rural areas have been very effective at preventing carloads of would-be border-crossers from entering the U.S. while allowing wildlife to pass through them. Let’s keep vehicle barriers as well.
In remote areas, it appears that the newest technologies (surveillance towers and drones) do an excellent job of detecting border crossers, at a fraction of the cost of a wall. Using modern technology and strategic deployment of enforcement agents would be less harmful to our public land, local communities, and wildlife. And it would actually help the Border Patrol do their difficult job more effectively. When additional security is needed, let’s opt for state-of-the-art technology.
We can attempt to protect our border in an effective, 21st century way, or in a bumbling, ineffective, almost prehistoric way. Click here to make a donation to help us push for for solutions that protect our environment AND our border. Smart security--not walls!