When Is a Wilderness Bill More Than Just a Wilderness Bill?
For the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, designating land as wilderness is pretty much like breathing. And so when the committee unanimously passed a bill to convert a swath of southern New Mexico into wilderness in July, people didn’t think much of it.
Until they did. Suddenly, advocates of tight immigration enforcement are up in arms, claiming that the measure to protect the environment of this mountainous terrain would hinder Border Patrol and allow a new flood of immigrants to enter New Mexico. And an increase in activity by immigrants and cartels, in turn, could actually end up hurting the environment, they argue.
But environmental groups say this argument is just a political ploy to clamp down on immigration. It’s a complicated debate, with no clear answers. The full Senate will be considering the bill sometime after it reconvenes, and much is up in the air. Elise Foley has the full story.