Republicans say federal land protections are hindering border agents in their ability to access properties near the southern border — and that, in turn, is driving up the numbers of illegals who are pouring into America.
The Interior Department oversees 800 miles or so of properties right along the border with Mexico, about 40 percent of the total border line, The Hill reported. The other properties in the region and along the border are owned by the Forest Service, The Hill said.
Republican lawmakers say that if it weren't for these federal protections, border patrol agents would have a far easier time accessing the land where illegals are crossing — and subsequently turning them back. GOP lawmakers also say that if the land weren't owned by the feds, then border authorities could put in place a lot more surveillance technology, too, The Hill reported.
"There is no doubt that the restrictions on accessing land along the border have made it more difficult for the Border Patrol to do their job," Sen. Ted Cruz told The Hill. "It seems a commonsense reform to say that the border patrol should be able to fully access and patrol the border."
A Republican-led working group recommended a reform at the legislative level to prevent the Interior Department or the Forest Service from denying access to border authorities. Democrats, however, are denying the impact on the border patrol from land preservation tags.
"These [illegal immigrant] kids have become both the excuse and the reason that they [Republicans] can revisit some of these policies," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, in The Hill report. "You see everything from getting rid of [deferred action] because of these kids, we have to have troops on the border because of the kids — now, we don't need environmental regulations on public lands because of the kids."
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