TUCSON -- Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), my Congressman, introduced legislation that will help secure and conserve public and tribal lands and natural resources along the international land borders of the United States.
The Borderlands Conservation and Security Act of 2007 will help mitigate damage to Federal and tribal lands from illegal border activity and border enforcement efforts by increasing coordination and planning between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal land management agencies and tribes.
The legislation will also correct existing policies and allow the flexibility for a local approach to border security, instead of mandating an unrealistic and harmful wall.
"Current policy has driven crossing activity to remote isolated areas along the border, which in Southern Arizona, represent significant public and tribal lands," said Rep. Grijalva. "Many of these lands have suffered extensive environmental degradation as a result of unauthorized activity and border security efforts. This bill is the first step in preserving our unique natural heritage while we protect our borders."
The Borderlands Conservation and Security Act will:
1. Develop a Border Protection Strategy that supports border security efforts while also protecting federal lands;
2. Provide for flexibility rather than a one size fits all approach to border security by allowing experts at DHS to decide whether fences, virtual fences, border barriers or other options are the best way to address border security;
3. Allow land managers, local officials, and local communities to have a say in border security decisions;
4. Ensure that laws intended to protect air, water, wildlife, culture, and health and safety are fully complied with; and,
5. Fund initiatives that will help mitigate damage to borderland habitat and wildlife.
The Secure Fence Act and REAL ID promote a 'one fence fits all' solution and hamper the ability of local experts to implement security measures that would be more effective and low-impact in the border environment. Constructing a fence along the border would be completely impractical over the rugged terrain of the mountains and deserts and would be disastrous to the fragile border ecosystem.
"This multi-disciplinary approach is the correct path to address the growing crisis in a rapidly changing geopolitical reality," stated Grijalva. "The Borderlands Conservation and Security Act will strengthen border security and protect the environment by allowing all the agencies to work together cooperatively."
- from Rep. Grijalva