April 14, 2010
Today, House National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-UT) announced that Republican Committee staff have confirmed with both Border Patrol and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the criminal who killed Arizona Rancher Robert Krentz
both entered and exited the U.S. through federal land on the San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge.
The San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge is a 2,300 acre area in Arizona managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS,) an agency of the U.S. Interior Department, that shares three miles of the border with Mexico. This is one of the areas that Border Patrol has been unable to effectively monitor due to environmental regulations enforced by Department of Interior land managers.
According to a 2009 letter from the FWS, Border Patrol only has emergency vehicle access to this refuge. The FWS defines emergency circumstances only when human life, health or safety of persons in the areas must be immediately addressed. Furthermore, Border Patrol access for emergency purposes is limited to established roads.
As a result of Border Patrol’s inability to properly monitor this area, illegal traffic is moving through the refuge on nearly a daily basis.
“Department of Interior is using the land laws, the Wilderness Act, the Endangered Species Act as their trump card, which takes precedence over anything that border security may want to do, and that’s what has to be stopped. We have to change where the priority is—to securing the borders, stopping the drugs, stopping the human trafficking, stopping the terrorists. That should be our number one priority and number one concern,” said Rep. Bishop during today’s press conference.
In 2007, Rob Krentz and his wife, Susan, wrote a letter to Members of Congress expressing concern over the criminal activity that was taking place in Wilderness areas along the border. They wrote that “the flood of illegal immigration through the proposed Wilderness Areas has almost produced a state of war over drugs and immigration” and that “we are in fear for our lives and safety and health of ourselves and that of our families and friends.”
Legislation (H.R. 5016) introduced today at a press conference would ensure that the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture do not restrict or impede Border Patrol from having operational control of the border. This would give Border Patrol both the authority and access to effectively monitor our federal lands on the border, including the San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge.
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