The expiration of Title 42, a policy established under the Trump administration to facilitate the expulsion of migrants, is on the horizon, and the repercussions could be dire for the environment.
Experts are sounding the alarm, warning that the termination of this policy could lead to a significant increase in illegal border crossings, putting sensitive ecosystems along the U.S.-Mexico border at risk.
According to immigration analyst Mark Krikorian, the aftermath of Title 42’s expiration could result in widespread environmental damage and the accumulation of trash.
He recalls witnessing smugglers driving vehicles over the border, causing destruction to ancient saguaro cactuses. Krikorian further emphasizes the issue by recounting his experience with a trash collection team in Arizona’s Tohono O’odham reservation, where he witnessed the overwhelming presence of garbage.
A substantial portion of the land along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border is under federal management, including national wildlife refuges, national monuments, and national forests. These areas, such as the Cleveland National Forest in California, Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona, and Big Bend National Park and Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, are susceptible to the environmental impact of increased illegal crossings.
Mitch Ellis, formerly the manager of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, highlighted the challenges faced by federally-managed wildlife zones.
These remote areas have become prime habitat for smugglers, undocumented migrants, and other illegal border crossers. As a result, land managers are forced to prioritize border issues over the preservation of natural resources.
Illegal border crossings result in not only trash accumulation but also the abandonment of vehicles, leading to the creation of illegal roads, human waste, and wildfires on federal lands. Shockingly, Arizona alone sees approximately 2,000 tons of trash discarded each year along its borderlands.
To combat the environmental consequences of high levels of border crossings, specialized programs have been initiated by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to address waste collection, water quality protection, and air quality protection.
Jeremy Beck, Vice President of NumbersUSA, highlights the detrimental impact of smuggling routes that pass through national parks. Despite well-intentioned efforts to provide water bottles along these routes, the resulting accumulation of discarded items and damage to sensitive ecosystems is undeniable.
Furthermore, illegal marijuana cultivation poses a significant problem on federal lands along the southern border. Cleaning up these sites, which often contain graded dirt, trash, propane tanks, toxic chemicals, human waste, garbage, rat poison, and decaying food scraps, is a costly and labor-intensive process. Taxpayers are burdened with the approximate cost of $40,000 for each cleanup operation.
Congressman Bruce Westerman, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, emphasizes the urgency of addressing these issues. With nearly 40% of the southern border encompassing federal lands, the preservation of America’s delicate habitats and wildlife populations is crucial.
Immediate action is necessary to secure the border, allocate adequate resources to relevant agencies, and protect the vast stretches of federal land.
Experts also predict that increased migration will contribute to higher greenhouse gas emissions in the long term.
Economic migrants seek to improve their standard of living, resulting in additional consumption that has significant environmental consequences.
As the expiration of Title 42 looms, it is essential to recognize the potential environmental threats that lie ahead. The Biden administration must take swift and decisive action to secure the border, safeguard our natural resources, and ensure a sustainable future for our environment.
Source Fox News