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Commentary: National security bill would not strengthen borders

March 07, 2012|By Jason Bensley

*Corrected: An earlier version of the piece misspelled the writer's name.

As a veteran, the security of our country is of great concern to me. I served in the United States Army in Iraq, and I understand the sacrifice that is needed to protect this great nation.

That's why I believe security starts with effective protection of our borders. We must be prepared for threats from all directions in a post-9/11 world.

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Illegal immigration is a serious challenge for our country. The men and women who protect our borders know this firsthand. Their jobs are difficult, and they not only deal with the human tragedy of those crossing the borders but also with a broken bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., that has failed to find a solution to this problem.

This issue has become even more paramount in recent years, as we have watched thugs and drug kingpins look to our borders as a way to push their product into our country. The problem is real and systemic.

Recently, U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) introduced H.R. 1505, the "National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act." Unfortunately, this bill neither protects our nation's borders nor moves toward finding solutions for our broken immigration laws.

In reality, the bill is nothing more than an assault on our country's public lands — including our National Parks and Forests. H.R. 1505 would destroy some of the most treasured places in America — and fail to strength our borders or make us safer.

H.R. 1505 would provide the Department of Homeland Security with exemptions from various laws on federal lands within 100 miles of the border. Some of the laws that would be waived include the Wilderness Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.

Waiving these long standing laws is no way to defend America — a fact with which many members of the Border Patrol agree. A recent study by the Government Accountability Office found that, "Most agents reported that land management laws have had no effect on the Border Patrol's overall measure of border security."

In California, one of the areas that would be impacted by this bill is our beloved Joshua Tree National Park. Access to areas of the park could be shut down and roads could be constructed in an unregulated free-for-all.

This bill would allow the calculated destruction of one of America's most sacred areas and serves no purpose in securing our borders.

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