Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) joined Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chairman of the House Public Lands and Environment Regulation Subcommittee, and others to support the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act.
H.R. 2398 will allow the U.S. Border Patrol to access and build on lands that are currently off limits to them because of environmental restrictions. In some places, motorized vehicles are not allowed and horses are their only means of transportation.
Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie was murdered in one such area. He and other agents were on horseback at the time because vehicles were not allowed in the area. As Breitbart News reported in October 2012, this makes the agents open targets and does not allow them an effective means of escaping danger.
Rancher Dan Bell, who leases land in a restricted area, explained how it also takes border patrol agents too long to get to the border when responding to calls for their service. On some occasions, by the time they get to the destination they have to turn back because it is the end of the day.
This bill will cut the red tape and give border patrol access to those lands. Labrador released this statement:
I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of this common-sense bill which will strengthen both our borders and improve the safety and security of our people,” said Rep. Labrador. “For too long, Border Patrol agents have been denied routine access to federal lands because of restrictive environmental policies, allowing these lands to become havens for drug smuggling, human trafficking, and other illegal activities. The environmental policies which are preventing our border security experts from doing their jobs are illogical, destructive, and must come to an end. Our bill will modernize federal law so that U.S. Border patrol agents have the access they need to deter and apprehend those who cross through our federal lands illegally. I appreciate Chairman Bishop’s leadership in introducing this bill, and I will do all I can to have it pass through Congress and become the law of the land.
Some of the ways in which the bill assists U.S. Border Patrol agents include:
- 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.
There are over 20 millions acres of federal land between the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture along the U.S./Mexico border and 1,000 miles along the U.S./Canada border.