The U.S. Border Patrol is being stymied in its efforts to protect the southern border by federal environmental regulations that leave an 800-mile opening.
The Hill reports that about 40 percent of the U.S. border with Mexico falls under Department of the Interior and Forest Service rules that prohibit the Border Patrol from driving there, creating roads, patrolling, installing surveillance devices, or building infrastructure.
The rules, designed to protect wildlife, also protect illegal immigrants and smugglers, Republicans say.
"There is no doubt that the restrictions on accessing land along the border have made it more difficult for the Border Patrol to do their job," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told The Hill. "It seems a common-sense reform to say that the Border Patrol should be able to fully access and patrol the border."
A House Republican working group recently released a dozen recommendations to deal with the border crisis, according to Business Insider, including a recommendation for legislation that would "prohibit the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) from denying or restricting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) activities on federal land under their respective jurisdictions."
Cruz said smugglers are well aware of what parts of the border are not under Border Patrol surveillance because of environmental regulations and, therefore, use those sections to slip illegal immigrants into the United States.