The Sierra Vista Herald (Arizona) today published an article about a federal Bureau of Land Management study finding illegal immigration to be a significant cause of environmental degradation:
BISBEE — A new Bureau of Land Management report paints a bleak picture of the impact of illegal immigration and drug smuggling on public lands in Arizona, with estimates that as much as 25 million pounds of trash were left in the state’s borderlands during the 2000-2005 fiscal years.
The new BLM report summarizes the accomplishments of a bureau-led effort known as the Southern Arizona Project that sought to mitigate the environmental degradation of public lands over a three-year period. Volunteers recovered 25,000 pounds of trash, 600 abandoned vehicles and 1,725 discarded bicycles while also working to rehabilitate illegal trail routes and maintain roads, the report says.
Of course, absolutely no environmental discussion is free from dissent. Disagreeing with the implications of the BLM study, Peter Galvin of the Center for Biodiversity (Tucson) is reported by the article to claim:
...Border Patrol vehicles have damaged lands around the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and that the construction of border fencing has sealed off migratory routes for antelope in western sectors. And he worries similar fencing around the San Pedro River could negatively impact bird migration as well as efforts to rehabilitate local jaguar populations.
“We certainly agree that there are environmental impacts associated with illegal immigrants,” Galvin said. “But those impacts actually pale in comparison to the impact of the militarization of the border.”
So: illegal immigration degrades the environment; enforcing the border against illegal immigration degrades the environment. Glad that's clear.
FYI, a search guide to reports from BLM on illegal immigration and the environment can be found at http://www.blm.gov/az/search/az_external/search.asp?zoom_query=immigration (note: this is not the same link as in the Herald article; that link doesn't seem to work).