People who illegally cross into the United States from Mexico have found success in crossing the border where the land is either privately owned or consists of national forests, national monuments, wilderness areas, reservations and wildlife refuges. Many of those areas are protected by laws that make it more difficult for border patrol agents to secure the border, in some cases, preventing them from using motorized vehicles.
Last week the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on H.R. 1505, the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, which was introduced by Representative Rob Bishop, R-Utah. In his testimony, Dr. Gary Thrasher, a rancher and veterinarian from southern Arizona, called the bill an important piece of legislation needed to protect the sovereignty and security of the border region, its federal lands and refuges, as well as the nation's security.
The legislation would allow U.S. Border Patrol immediate access to federal lands and the ability to construct and maintain roads and place surveillance equipment in strategic areas to assist in detecting and apprehending criminals.
Thrasher told the Committee that the situation is growing more serious in rural and remote stretches of the border between the United States and Mexico. He said the increasing deployment of border patrol personnel to the more easily accessed areas has driven border incursions toward less accessible trails in rural areas – areas that cross through ranches like his as well as national forests, national monuments, wilderness areas, reservations and wildlife refuges.
"Those of us who live and work in remote smuggling corridors are left the most vulnerable," Thrasher said. "We are confronted with threats; damage and destruction of our property; theft; break-ins; and serious disruption of our necessary ranch work almost daily. Lethal violence is a daily menace we’re forced to live with and the senseless murders of our neighbors go unsolved."