A story in Tucson’s Arizona Daily Star details a court ruling overturning a conviction for littering against a member of a group placing water jugs in the desert for border crossers. More than 2,000 bodies of illegal immigrants, most, but not all of whom died from dehydration or exposure, have been found in the past eight years.
The court’s ruling exonerating the litterbug also clears the way for the placement of more emergency water stations along regularly used smuggler’s trails. Some trails cross areas protected by environmental and endangered species laws. Access to these areas is restricted or prohibited to American citizens, including the Border Patrol. Illegal immigrants and the smuggling cartels already breaking the law recognize no obligation to follow those restrictions. The acres of strewn trash, clothing and human waste is devastating environmental impact on the desert. If the accumulation stopped today, it would take years to clean up the detritus, including tens of thousands of water jugs despoiling the desert. Perhaps the compassionate groups placing and refilling the water stations could be required to haul out an equal weight of trash for each gallon of water hauled in.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with an alphabet soup of federal and state agencies will be involved in a permitting process for additional water stations. Since apprehending and deporting illegals is a better alternative than the continued trashing of the desert and more deaths, barrels of water should be set out.
And the area around the water stations should be salted with motion detectors, day and night cameras, and microphones. Other than the water stations, this kind of off-the-shelf technology is what the military used to seal the border area west of Tucson to the California border. Much of that region is bombing and gunnery ranges vital to military training. Note that the military did not need Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano’s high-dollar unmanned drones and the much vaunted and costly high-tech radars to cut the traffic to almost zero in the Yuma sector.
The illegal crossing problem will be passed along just the way it was when the border fences went up in California in the early 1990s. When the western Arizona area became almost impossible to cross undetected, the illegal traffic predictably shifted east. As the difficulty crossing undetected increases in Arizona and Texas, New Mexico’s even more rugged and desolate desert will become the next primary crossing point. New Mexico considers itself a sanctuary for illegals, but when the traffic there increases dramatically the state’s residents will inevitably demand a change to that policy.
The unintended consequence of limiting border access has been the increase in violence among competing cartels. As yet, the worst of the violence has stayed on the Mexican side, but only fools reject the reality that criminal violence is and will continue to increase on the American side. The border can be much more secure than it is now. That increased security does not have to carry the huge price tag DHS, BP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and elected officials insist is required. Do it smart, and do it now.