Newest National Monument Sparks Border Concerns

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 05:12 PM

By Cathy Burke

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President Barack Obama has designated nearly a half-million acres of rugged desert terrain along the U.S.-Mexico border as the nation's newest national monument — unleashing a torrent of criticism from Washington to the West.

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument will be the largest monument Obama has designated so far under the Antiquities Act, a 1906 law that allows the president to protect landmarks, structures, and objects of historic or scientific interest, the Huffington Post reported Monday.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday said the decision will put America's security at risk in a region plagued by the influence of Mexican drug cartels, human smuggling and illegal immigration — and shows a "level of audacity that is remarkable even for this administration," Business Insider reports.

He joins a growing chorus who've criticized the new monument.

"At a time of continued cartel violence in Mexico, we should not be putting any additional restraints on efforts to protect our borders," Boehner said.

"What’s particularly disappointing is that even Senate Democrats recognized the need for additional border security protections, including them in their own legislation on this issue. Yet the president and his administration have chosen to ignore those efforts, and the concerns that its new restrictions will place additional burdens on Border Patrol personnel and limit access to high crime areas along the border, making it easier for drug smugglers and human traffickers to move in and out of the country."

Others, including New Mexico Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, complained the designation is the latest example of Obama taking unilateral action to bypass Congress.

Boehner agreed.

"For many months I have warned that the president’s fondness for unilateral action has created widespread doubt among the American people that he and his administration can be counted on to enforce any law he signs, particularly when it comes to securing our nation’s borders and reforming our immigration system," he said in a statement.

"Once again, the president has chosen to bypass the legislative branch — and, in this case, do so in a manner that adds yet another challenge in our ongoing efforts to secure our Southern border."

Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the designation involving the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area will not limit security efforts along the border.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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