The imminent expiration of Title 42, a policy introduced during the Trump administration to facilitate the expulsion of migrants, has ignited a heated debate about its potential environmental repercussions along the U.S.-Mexico border.
As the policy’s end draws near, concerns are mounting over the impact on delicate ecosystems in federal and state wildlife refuges.
Experts and immigration analysts have voiced their apprehension regarding the aftermath of Title 42’s expiration. Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, recalls witnessing the environmental devastation caused by smugglers driving vehicles over the border, leaving behind a trail of destruction, including the destruction of ancient saguaro cactuses.
Krikorian’s first-hand experience with trash collection teams in Arizona’s Tohono O’odham reservation revealed the extensive garbage left behind by illegal border crossings.
Approximately 40% of the land along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border falls under federal management, including national wildlife refuges, national monuments, and national forests.
These protected areas, such as the Cleveland National Forest in California, Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona, and Big Bend National Park and Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, face the risk of significant environmental degradation due to the potential surge in illegal crossings.
The impact of increased migration on federally-managed wildlife zones cannot be overlooked. Mitch Ellis, former manager of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, has highlighted the challenges faced by land managers, who are forced to prioritize border issues over the preservation of natural resources.
Illegal border crossings contribute to trash accumulation and the abandonment of vehicles, which result in the creation of illegal roads, human waste pollution, and an increased risk of wildfires on federal lands. Shockingly, Arizona alone witnesses the annual disposal of 2,000 tons of trash along its borderlands.
In response, specialized programs have been initiated by environmental agencies to address waste collection, water quality protection, and air quality protection.
Jeremy Beck, Vice President of NumbersUSA, draws attention to the detrimental impact of smuggling routes passing through national parks. Despite well-intentioned efforts to provide water bottles along these routes, the ecological damage caused by discarded items and trampled ecosystems remains a significant concern.
Additionally, illegal marijuana cultivation on federal lands along the southern border poses a grave environmental challenge. Cleaning up these sites, which contain hazardous materials such as toxic chemicals, trash, and decaying organic matter, is both labor-intensive and expensive. Taxpayers bear the burden of funding the cleanup operations.
Congressman Bruce Westerman, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, underscores the urgency of addressing these environmental issues. With nearly 40% of the southern border encompassing federally-managed lands, the preservation of America’s delicate habitats and wildlife populations is of paramount importance.
Swift action is required to secure the border, allocate adequate resources to relevant agencies, and ensure the protection of vast stretches of federal land.
Furthermore, experts predict that increased migration will lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions in the long run. Economic migrants come to the United States seeking a better life, but their arrival results in increased consumption, exacerbating environmental impacts.
As the expiration of Title 42 draws nearer, it is imperative to acknowledge the potential environmental perils that lie ahead. The Biden administration must take decisive action to secure the border, safeguard natural resources, and ensure a sustainable future for the U.S.-Mexico border region.
Source Fox News