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Westerman, Gosar Demand Answers on Environmental Impacts of Illegal Border Crossings

March 18, 2021

Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, requesting information on the long-term environmental impacts stemming from the southern border crisis. In part, the members wrote:

“The environmental consequences of illegal immigration are well documented. Both of us have personally witnessed scattered trash and damage to our lands during official tours of the southern border. Deserts are used as dumping sites and vegetation is destroyed. For example, between 2007 and 2018, 460,000 pounds of trash discarded by illegal migrants were collected along the 370 miles of the Arizona-Mexico border. Based on past cleanups, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality estimates that each border crosser leaves ‘approximately six to eight pounds of trash in the desert during their journey.’ The trash left behind by illegal migrants includes human waste, backpacks, medical products, plastic, vehicles, and clothing, all of which pose risks to wildlife…

“As the number of illegal migrants crossing the border increases, greater damages to federal lands are anticipated. Decreasing illegal crossings protects our border environment, and while a border wall serves as an effective deterrent, the expansion is no longer under construction. We cannot ignore the environmental impact of illegal migrants when devising immigration enforcement policy.”

Read the full letter here.

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