Unintended Consequences: A Study of Federal Policy, the Border Fence, and the Natural Environment
Advisorde Steiguer, Joseph Edward
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractBorders and border barriers can be breached and boundaries and political agendas can change. The Great Walls of China, Hadrian's Wall, and the Iron Curtain have lost their strategic value. Walls are contested presently in the Middle East. And the unpopulated DMZ in Korea, while still of strategic value, is being recognized for its biodiversity and resurgence of endangered flora and fauna. Presently, the United States is building a defensive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in the name of national security and to stem the tide of drug and human trafficking. In the process it has waived numerous environmental laws thereby putting transboundary ecosystems in danger of irreparable harm. Why should there be interest? For the reason, as put forth by Mumme and Ibáñez, that while much attention has been paid to adverse environmental effects within the United States, "little attention has been given to the potentially complicated effects of the international boundary, water, and environmental agreements to which [the United States and Mexico] are party should Mexico choose to press its rights at the level of international law. . . . As international treaties and protocols, these agreements enjoy a legal standing that may supersede the authority of most domestic legislation." The implications are far reaching. Mexico has sent diplomatic notes to the U.S. embassy in Mexico and to the U.S. Department of State, and the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT), Mexico's environment secretariat, has held informal talks with the Department of the Interior (DOI) and with the Secretary of Homeland Security--all apparently of no avail. Canada's notes have been similarly ignored by the Department of Homeland Security. What then for the U.S-Mexico border fence? Will it eventually become a relic of past political policy? Is the United States to ignore the lessons of the past and void its environmental treaties and agreements with Mexico? Should we not be concentrating on comprehensive immigration reform and the causes of drug abuse in the United States rather than a short-term solution to long-term problems?
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Arid Land Resource Science