Unbridled borderlands access

House passes bill to allow Border Patrol access to National Park lands

The House passed legislation on June 19 to allow the U.S. Border Patrol unrestrained access to all federally managed lands within 100 miles of the borders of Canada and Mexico, including California’s Joshua Tree National Park.

Proponents of the bill maintain laws like the Wilderness Act and the Endangered Species Act often impede agents from using vehicles in pursuit of drug smugglers and illegal immigrants, according to The Washington Post. Hunters, conservationists and Hispanic advocacy groups believe the bill guts crucial environmental protections, and say there is little evidence of illegal immigrants entering the country through national parks along the Canadian border. However, the Democratic-controlled Senate won’t likely pass the measure.

Kristen Brengel, of the National Parks Conservation Association, says that the legislation could result in damage to historic sites and other protected areas such as Joshua Tree.