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Prof says border enforcement harms environment

  • A New Mexico Tech professor has found that both legal and illegal activity at the U.S.-Mexico border are causing a decrease in vegetation cover.
  • While he admits that illegal immigration is part of the problem, he asserts that too much border enforcement is more of a problem.

A study from a New Mexico professor claims that activity at the border affects nearby vegetation. The professor who authored the study is warning against increasing border enforcement for fear of damaging the environment in the immediate area.

New Mexico Tech professor Haoying Wang set out to analyze the changes in vegetation along the U.S.-Mexico border and determine whether or not such changes could be attributed to climate change or illegal immigration.

“Border Patrol agents are also creating trails with their heavy equipment.”    

By using NASA images and data from the Department of Agriculture, Wang found that “both illegal and legal activities have statistically significant impacts on the border region,” but that border patrol agents and the enforcement of the border have a much larger impact on the environment than actual completed illegal crossings. His findings suggest that if increased by 10 percent, illegal border crossings would cause a 13 percent decrease of vegetation in the immediate area, while a 20 percent increase in Border Patrol agents would damage vegetation by 135 percent.


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