Today is World Environment Day, the U.N.’s “Day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment.” Trees will be planted, oceans will be filtered of plastics, many will choose to ride their bikes rather than drive their cars, and streaming platforms will suggest climate-related documentaries. However, none of these things addresses a truly pressing environmental issue: the environmental ramifications of mass illegal immigration across our nation’s southern border.
It is estimated that each illegal alien leaves behind 6-8 pounds of trash on the U.S. side of the border. Multiply that by the more than 1.4 million who have entered the nation along the southern land border since October of last year, and you’ve got a whopping 9 million pounds of garbage.
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Backpacks, vehicles, plastics, clothing, human waste, medical supplies, food, and chemicals have all been left at the southern border—posing a direct risk to wildlife, water reservoirs, vegetation, and protected lands. President Joe Biden’s current immigration policies have effectively made the southern border an open landfill.
The southern border region includes 693 miles of federal or tribal-owned land, some of which are designated as protected areas, such as the Sonoran Desert National Monument, Big Bend National Park, and Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, to name a few. These regions are vital to the preservation of our natural heritage.
Environmental initiatives are strongly favored by the Left. In the pursuit of “environmental justice,” Biden has signed billion-dollar bills to combat climate change and promote the adoption of clean energy alternatives. This same sense of “justice” should be afforded to Biden’s open border on environmental days like Earth Day, Arbor Day, World Wildlife Day, and World Environment Day.
But the Left’s environmentalists seem to be absent when it comes to addressing the southern border—an open contradiction to its environmental principles. If the Left mentions the southern border environment at all, it is to oppose the idea of a border wall system. Leftists talk about the alleged environmental ramifications of the wall to justify keeping its construction halted.
The Left realizes that illegal immigration has detrimental effects on the environment, including on its habitats, wildlife, and the people within it. However, instead of addressing this issue head-on, it chooses to ignore it. By prioritizing optics over action, leftist environmentalists are undermining their own cause.
The 2 million illegal aliens who have been released into the nation since Biden took office add the population and affect things such as vehicle emission rates and infrastructure stability. They also lead to more urban sprawl, which directly hinders farmlands and wildlife.
The National Wildlife Federation states that the “rapid consumption of land could threaten the survival of nearly one out of every three imperiled species in the United States.” For example, the Florida panther is at risk of extinction due to this issue. What was once rural land for the animal is now a developed concrete jungle.
The borderlands are biologically rich and home to thousands of different mammals, insects, and vegetation. Ignoring the environmental consequences of mass illegal immigration will only exacerbate their already perilous status.
The presence of increasing numbers of illegal border crossers has led to unauthorized settlements and wildfires, all of which disrupt these animals’ habitats, leaving long-lasting effects on biodiversity. Stricter border enforcement measures, coupled with effective conservation efforts, can help to alleviate the negative impacts of illegal immigration on these animals’ habitats.
To be consistent in their beliefs and their advocacy, any reputable environmental-driven organization that discusses conservation and endangered species should also be speaking about the environmental impacts of an open southern border. The long-term environmental damage caused by mass illegal immigration will continue to harm fauna and wildlife. Trash will continue to pile up and run off into water systems, and park rangers will continue to allocate the majority of their time to cleaning up rather than educating visitors.
It’s time for the Left, which claims to care about the environment, and the Biden administration, which ceaselessly addresses green initiatives, to extend that same green gusto to the southern border. The environmental impacts of illegal immigration can no longer be left out of the green conversation.
Article cross-posted from Daily Signal.