Can't control the criminal? Control the law-abiding
It was an edge-of-the-radar-screen news story that I happen to notice, surfing the Fox News web site. The story was about the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, which is located west of Douglas, Arizona and its southern boundary is adjacent to the Mexican border.
According to the report, and refuge website, 3500 acres have been posted off limits to visitors, due to the presence of drug and human smuggling. Rather than dealing effectively to secure the border, Federal officials have ceded 3500 acres to drug cartels and smugglers. Granted, that acreage is only three percent of the 118,000 acre park and no doubt a small area which no one will really miss viewing.
This off-limits must also infer it's OK for illegal aliens and criminals to tramp through a wildlife refuge, destroying the pristine environment with dead bodies, discarded clothes, empty food packages and bathroom tissue, because the government won't enforce environmental laws, let alone border security.
However, if a U.S. citizen left trash behind, you can be sure government agents and prosecutors would work diligently to identify and charge that person or group with environment crimes. Prosecutors, I guess, aren't afraid of U.S. citizens, but drug smugglers are seen as live-and-let live. Why?
Furthermore, this closure makes me wonder, how much more land will be placed off-limits to visitors? Ten thousand acres? A smuggling corridor up to Interstate 8? According to the refuge website, officials suggested that visitors plan their outdoor activities north of I-8. How much sovernity will the U.S. cede until it does something? Maybe they can negotiate an accommodation with drug cartels, although I often wonder how do you negotiate with murders.
What ultimately is annoying is that as a U.S. Citizen, I am kept from going where I please on land that isn't marked with red, white and blue Property of the U.S. Government shields or posted against trespassing. All of which illustrates the saying, when the government can't control the criminal, they control the law-abiding.
I have personal experience regarding that, and it illustrates how long this problem has existed. In 1993, I, my wife and 3-year old daughter traveled down by Douglas, Arizona. One of the area attractions was the John Slaughter Ranch, 15 miles east of town, about a mile or two from the border. The ranch has been restored as a historical site.
After touring it, I asked the guide, if the dirt road led down to the border. I wanted to drive to it and do touristy things. Like step across and enter Mexico "illegally". Or stand with one foot in the U.S. and one in Mexico. If there was border marker, take a photo standing next to it. Also, I would have stood there and pondered what it would be like to have lived in this area in Slaughter's day .
Upon my query, the guide told me that the DEA said the area was off-limits because of drug smuggling and you couldn't go without prior permission. I thought then, as I do now, that a bunch of narco criminals were defining where I could or could not travel.
As a practical matter, we were traveling armed, so we would not have been easily victimized. But with my daughter, I thought better of it and we didn't travel to the border.
Today, that would be different. My daughter is a little bigger now and we would again exercise our 2A right. In our border jaunt, it would be the height of irony, if we were stopped by Federal law enforcement and asked what were we doing there. To which I would reply, we were just sight seeing. No doubt, we would be asked to show our "papers". Isn't that the law that the President thinks is wrong? Sorry, my mistake; it's the Arizona law he opposes.
Ultimately, if Federal border officials viewed a vehicle crossing the Mexican border northbound, I wonder if they would stop it to check "papers", although that could be construed as profiling. Or would that illegal entry be in an area negotiated off limits to U.S. Citizens? Does anyone in Homeland Security realize that when the enemy restricts your movement in your sovereign territory, they're winning?
Things, I suspect, will only get uglier.