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Bishop Introduces Bill to Close Vast Gaps on U.S. Border

June 18, 2013
Press Release
WASHINGTON–Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee, today introduced the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act (H.R. 2398), which will address some of the current problems plaguing U.S. border security efforts. The bill specifically examines the role that federal land policies play in aiding drug trafficking and human smuggling into the U.S. 

"Taking up sweeping immigration reform is futile unless we address some of the biggest problems plaguing border security first. Right now environmental land management policies are trumping national security efforts. We have basically rolled out the welcome mat for drug cartels on federal lands because environmental policies restrict the U.S. Border Patrol's ability to secure some of the most heavily trafficked areas of the southern border," said Bishop.

Specifically, H.R. 2398 gives the United States Border Patrol improved access to federal land located on the U.S. Border where current federal environmental policies restrict the U.S. Border Patrol's ability to patrol, deter, and apprehend drug smugglers and human traffickers. There are more than 20 million acres of U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) land along the southern U.S. Border.  Current land management policies for these areas restrict the Border Patrol from having sufficient access.  As a result, federal land along the border provides those wanting to enter our country illegally with virtually unfettered access. Many who enter the U.S. unlawfully are working for drug cartels, but the Border Patrol's lack of sufficient access to federal lands is contributing to the growing number of those that remain in our country illegally.

"At some point we are going to have to take actual steps to fix the problem. Failing to address the role that federal lands play with regards to illegal entrance into this country makes any immigration bill useless because the problem will still exist. The irony is that while some are focusing their efforts solely on what to do with those already in the U.S., cartels continue to have nearly free reign on our federal lands and are causing severe environmental degradation in the process," Bishop added.  "Current Senate legislation may take some good steps toward addressing the impact of environmental policies on border security, but it doesn't go far enough. We must do more and the time to act is now. It is my hope that the House will do more to sufficiently address this matter." 

The National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act:

  • Prevents the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from impeding, prohibiting, or restricting the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to obtain operational control of the border.
  • Provides the Department of Homeland Security with immediate access to federal lands necessary to provide the utmost security throughout the border region.
  • Allows the U.S. Border Patrol to construct and maintain roads and place surveillance equipment in strategic areas that will assist in detecting and apprehending criminals.
  • Allows the Department of Homeland Security to waive certain policies preventing them from obtaining full operational control of the border.