Calling the border with Mexico an “environmental disaster,” Interior Secy. Ryan Zinke has ordered both U.S. park rangers and park police to Arizona and New Mexico to help stop the movement of illegal immigrants into the country.
He said two parks on the border — Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona and Amistad National Recreation Area in Texas — have become strewn with garbage and needles.
“I’m a former SEAL Team 6 commander,” Zinke noted. “If the president says do it, I look at the resources we have available and we get it done.”
At first, the reinforcements include about two dozen agents, who will serve three-week rotations securing the border in those federal areas and apprehending illegals as part of President Trump’s stricter border enforcement. An estimated 40 percent of that border involves federal lands, mainly under Interior jurisdiction.
Unlike the National Guardsmen also dispatched earlier this year to beef up enforcement in border zones, park officers are law enforcement agents with the authority to arrest.
In their first two days on-site, the initial rangers apprehended 13 illegal immigrants. Additional officers will be sent this summer, but Interior declined to specify the exact numbers for security reasons.
Last month at a border news conference, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple.”
As with pretty much everything these days, Zinke’s decision to obey the president’s orders became politicized. “This is just Zinke’s way of getting into the border propaganda,” said Rep. Rubin Gallego. an Arizona Democrat. “Every two-bit Republican politician uses the border.”
Then, Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski chimed in. She’s chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She said:
We have significant public lands along the border that the secretary has authority over, whether it’s park lands or I believe there are some refuges and in the course of their job, enforcement officers are charged with making sure there is a level of safety in parks.