Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01), Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus and Ranking Member on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands issued the following statement in response to Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s remarks before Congress:
“Though I do not agree with all aspects of President Calderon’s remarks today, especially his comments on the Second Amendment, one thing we can agree is that shoring up the holes in our border and ending the constant flow of drug traffickers into the U.S. must be a priority for both countries.
“The first and most immediate step that must be taken is closing the gaps on our border, many of which exist on federal lands. There are over 20 million acres of federal lands along the U.S. border and over four million of those are designated wilderness areas. Much of these areas are currently off-limits to the U.S. Border Patrol due to restrictions created and enforced by federal land managers. This means that much of our border is unpatrolled and unmonitored.
“Due to the lack of Border Patrol presence, dangerous Mexican drug cartels have taken advantage of open-access points and are currently using these unpatrolled areas as trafficking corridors.
“If we intend to begin to address the violence along the border, we must begin by allowing our Border Patrol agents to adequately do their jobs. After my requests for Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to address this situation went unanswered, I introduced legislation that would give the U.S. Border Patrol priority access to critical areas of the border region.
“We must allow those charged with the responsibility of securing our border access to areas that experience the highest rates of criminal activity. It’s common sense.”