Past Features

August 8, 2017

Wildlife refuges - Sanctuaries for smugglers?
Will President Trump's "wall" block off the Santa Ana refuge?

Google Earth view of Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge-added graphics by American Border Patrol.
Public News Service -- August 7, 2017
Groups Plan Protest Over Trump's Border Wall in Rio Grande Valley
    A coalition of immigration and conservation groups is planning a major protest over plans to build a portion of the border wall in the Rio Grande Valley.
    The Trump administration already has begun site preparations for a 74-mile stretch of the wall in Hidalgo and Starr counties that would block much of the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.
    Scott Nicol, co-chair of the Sierra Club's Borderlands Campaign, says even though the refuge is a haven for endangered species and rare birds, there are few legal remedies to stop the project.
    "They have the authority, or at least the secretary of Homeland Security has the authority, to waive any laws – not just environmental laws,” Nicol states. “And so, when they do that, the Endangered Species Act doesn't matter anymore. Anything they feel like they're probably going to violate, they just waive and they don't have to worry about any legal repercussions."
    Congress has yet to fully fund the wall, but Homeland Security has shifted money from other programs to begin the project as early as November.
    Nicol says the wall, meant to stop illegal immigration and drug smuggling, would block endangered ocelots from crossing the Rio Grande and interfere with the migration of more than 400 species of birds.
    Nicol says the wall would fill a gap in a border fence left a decade ago by the Bush administration designed to protect Rio Grande access to regional wild lands.
    "Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuge is in the middle of a larger wildlife refuge system, the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, which runs along the Rio Grande and creates a wildlife corridor for federally endangered ocelots," Nicol stresses.

Glenn Spencer -- August 8, 2017
Wildlife refuge -- or bombing range -- a smuggler's paradise
More Fake News
    Before a new fence was installed back in 2007, the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range was a favorite smuggling corridor. To a certain extent the area surrounding it still is.
    It is a simple fact that smugglers prefer areas not patrolled by the U.S. Border Patrol --- or other law enforcement. Bombing ranges and wildlife refuges meet this test.
    Anyone with access to Google Earth can quickly see where the Santa Ana refuge is, and that a levee, designed to stop the Rio Grande River from flooding the surrounding farmland, runs along the its northern boundary --- not through it.
    Just as with other new fencing in this area, the “Trump Wall' will no doubt be built atop that levee --- and it will not ‘cut through' the refuge.
    There are a couple of spots along the levee where pubic access to the refuge could be cut off if not maintained using some sort of gates that can be monitored and controlled. I am confident CBP doesn't plan to cut this public access.
    Another opening of the levee further west is more problematic.
    At this point there is a road running through the levee to a boat ramp on the Rio Grande - inaccessible from the existing public entrance points --- but ideally situated for drug smugglers.
    In this case, CBP may be mostly interested in using the “Trump Wall” to deny refuge to criminals.
    The media know this, but insist on pumping out fake news to hurt President Trump.

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