Putting the “Wild” Back in Wild, Wild West

Congressman Tim Huelskamp
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Posted: Jun 07, 2011 1:22 PM
Putting the “Wild” Back in Wild, Wild West
In keeping with its commitment to putting special interests ahead of the best interest of the country, the Obama Administration has decided this time that federal land designations matter more than securing the southern border. In this instance, there are two preferential groups whose desires are being jointly satiated by the President: those who seek porous and unenforced borders as well as fanatical environmentalists who will cease at little to advance their cause. Bending to these political pressures presents a considerable threat to the safety and security of America.

Under the leadership of Congressman Rob Bishop of Utah – whose home state no doubt feels very immediate effects of illegal immigration – several Members of the House, including myself, support the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act (H.R. 1505). This legislation will prohibit the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from taking action on public lands that impede the border security activities necessary to protect the country.

Why is this necessary? Department of Interior officials have usurped the authority of the Department of Homeland Security Border Patrol agents charged with keeping people from entering the country illegally. By declaring certain territories as federal public lands, the Department of Interior has effectively reduced the enforcement capabilities of those patrolling the border. Bureaucratic rules and regulations have left America’s security forces underequipped to deal with those sneaking across the border. For example, in some instances agents are limited to "environmentally-friendly" enforcement methods such as foot or horseback when chasing drug runners who are driving all-terrain vehicles...and they aren't the pedaled model.

What does this all mean? In the name of “environmental regulation,” the Interior Department has put the “wild” back in “Wild, Wild West.” By taking away the most effective tools and enforcement capabilities of the men and women who are supposed to defend our border, America falls victim to criminals who enter the U.S. illegally and upon arrival, transport drugs, participate in human trafficking, and lead prostitution rings.

Environmentalists make the claim that it is the border security agents who pose a threat to the ecological well-being of the area. They say that by patrolling these areas agents are disrupting the pristine land. What is actually the case is that the inability of agents to patrol the border that makes this land safe for leisure activities by no one. No one can enjoy the landscape. The Organ Pipe National Monument on the Arizona-Mexico border is just one example of where “wilderness” has become “wild” solely as a result of unpatrolled land. The Park's website actually acknowledges that “drug smuggling routes pass through the park.” Well, if it is so obvious that such illegal activity takes place, why is it going unmonitored?

The consequences of a Wild West – in the name of environmentalism – are felt across the country. America’s economy is at stake when illegal activities populate it. America’s communities are threatened when criminal activity eventually and predictably expands beyond the southwest and touches all parts of the country. And, America’s sovereignty is at stake when our lands cannot be defended because some radical groups own this Administration.

Congressman Tim Huelskamp represents the First Congressional District of Kansas. He serves on the House Budget, Agriculture, and Veterans’ Affairs Committees. He is in his freshman term, and prior to coming to Washington, he served in the Kansas State Senate for 14 years. Follow Congressman Huelskamp on Facebook, Twitter (@conghuelskamp), YouTube, and his webpage.