The border…a crazy quilt of jurisdictions and ownership

When people talk about “securing the border” I suspect they think the land next to the border all belongs to the United States government.

Well, at least in Arizona, it does and it doesn’t.

Along the Arizona border we have the Coronado National Forest administered through the US Department of Agriculture, the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge administered by the US Fish & Wildlife Service which is part of the Department of Interior.

And then we have the Organ Pipe National Monument which is administered by the National Park Service, also part of Interior.

Then there is Bureau of Land Management (also Interior).

Then there is the Barry Goldwater Gunnery Range run by the US Department of Defense.

Then there is the Tohono O’odahm Indian reservation with is almost a sovereign nation unto itself.

Near the border we also have lands owned by the State of Arizona.

In Nogales the General Services Administration owns a 60 foot wide strip through part of the city as well as the ports of entry.

And of course there is some private property along the border.

Every land owner or and manager along the border has its own priorities and mission with regards to the land under their control. Stopping illegal entry and drug smuggling isn’t the first priority of some. All are burdened by the impacts of illegal entry and drug smuggling.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Border Patrol has had a difficult challenge in trying to work with all the land owners, including other agencies of the federal government and the Tohono O’odham in overlaying the border zone with security measures. These security measures, such as building roads and fences, have conflicted with (for example) the mission of wildlife protection in some cases.

The complexity of land ownership and management has not helped in the effort to secure the border. There doesn’t appear to be a unanimous consensus to do what is necessary to secure the border.

If we really are going to secure the border then all the conflict between all the various agencies and owners involved needs to be resolved.


About Hugh Holub

Attorney and writer.
This entry was posted in border issues, border security. Bookmark the permalink.

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