WASHINGTON – A new Center for Immigration Studies Memorandum explores how seemingly innocuous legislation before the Senate could turn 125 miles of southeast New Mexico’s Dona Ana County into a staging ground for drug cartels and illegal alien smugglers.
S. 1689, the “Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act,” changes the currently designated “public use” of certain Department of Interior lands to a “wilderness” designation. The end result would be to severely curtail the Border Patrol’s ability to operate due to the stringent nature of wilderness laws. New Mexico could suffer the same results as Arizona, as documented by the Center in its mini-documentary series showing the waste, destruction, and unsafe circumstances that borderlands suffer when wilderness laws (and poor federal government policy) create a law enforcement vacuum.
The new Center for Immigration Studies Memorandum, "A Gift to the Drug Cartels: Will New Mexico Become the Next Arizona?," authored by Janice Kephart, Director of National Security Policy at the Center and producer of the "Hidden Cameras" mini-documentary series, leaves no doubt that bill’s goal is to support legitimate environmental conservation. However, through an in-depth examination of current law and policy, Kephart concludes that the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act would leave the Border Patrol with little ability, and little incentive, to do its job.
The measure would effectively hand drug cartels 125 more borderland miles for operations; an alternative would be to assure conservation with adequate law enforcement in the area, thus keeping the cartels under control while protecting our public safety and national security.
The measure, co-sponsored by Senators Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, and Tom Udall, D-NM, was passed out of Chairman Bingaman’s committee in July 2010 and is awaiting consideration on the Senate floor.
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