Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 18, 2015

Contact: Randy Serraglio, (520) 784-1504

Misguided Border Security Bill Threatens Public Lands

TUCSON, Ariz.— Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) today jointly introduced the “Arizona Borderlands Protection and Preservation Act” in the U.S. Congress. A press release from Sen. McCain’s office claims that the bill is necessary to grant border security personnel full access to federal lands along the Arizona-Mexico border, including national parks, wildlife refuges, forests and monuments.

“This bill addresses a problem that does not exist,” said Randy Serraglio, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Government agencies and independent analysts alike have concluded that land-management laws and policies do not hinder border security efforts. To the contrary — a University of Arizona study found that cooperation between land managers and the Dept. of Homeland Security actually improves border security.”

“The notion that laws protecting public lands are somehow impeding border security is a fantasy cooked up by politicians who’ve been trying for many years to weaken those protections,” said Serraglio. “These lands belong to all Americans and should not be sacrificed for a cynical, misguided political agenda.”

The Arizona-Mexico border region has stunningly beautiful wildlands that provide a home for a vast diversity of plants and animals. Public lands along the Arizona-Mexico border include Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, and the Coronado National Forest. The border region supports numerous threatened and endangered species, including the only known U.S. jaguar.

“The borderlands are too fragile and precious to be thrown under the border security bus,” said Serraglio. “Land-management agencies have a memorandum of understanding in place with the Dept. of Homeland Security that has established a good working relationship between land managers and border security personnel. There’s been substantial congressional testimony to that effect — it’s a shame that Sen. McCain and Rep. Salmon refuse to listen.”

At times in the past, land management agencies and Homeland Security have not cooperated smoothly, but the working relationship has greatly improved in recent years. The same Government Accountability Office analysis that the congressmen used to justify their bill concluded that overall border security was not lessened by public lands.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Go back