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Illegal Immigration and the Environment

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Essay title: Illegal Immigration and the Environment

Illegal Immigration and the Environment

One of the most controversial political issues of today is illegal immigration. Illegal immigration describes the long-term shift of populations across national borders without complying with the legal requirements. Many people are crossing the United States borders illegally to find better jobs, escape political persecution, and to help out families back home. Some Americans are against this movement of immigrants. One problem is because of the damaging effects to the United States environment, another is the amount of money needed to clean up the waste that is being left behind. Illegal immigration not only hurts the economy, it is also taking its toll on the environment. Illegal immigration damages the environment when the illegal immigrants build fires, litter, pollute our natural water sources, and abandon their automobiles.

Illegal immigration damages the environment when the immigrants set up camp and build fires. In the Coronado National Forest, wildfires have been started due to campfires set by illegal immigrants because they do not properly put out the campfires. (Clarren, 2006) The forest has lost many trees including douglas firs and oaks that will take countless years to be replenished. Wildfires have also destroyed 68,413 acres of natural land and cost American tax payers $5.1 million to fight. (Associated Press, 2002) The campfires are also started with brush and vegetation that is harmful to breathe. (Clarren, 2006) Small children and the elderly get respiratory infections as a result of the smoke from these illegal campfires. Jesse Juen field representative of the Bureau of Land Management of Tuscan, Arizona states “Over the past two years wildfires have destroyed about 20% of vegetation along the San Pedro River in Cochise County.” (Hull, 2002)

The illegal immigrants are also damaging the environment by leaving litter at their campsites as they travel on. The government has estimated that one immigrant leaves behind eight pounds of litter on the journey. (Davis, 2005) Smugglers make the immigrants leave their belongings so they can get more people into cars and trucks for the trip. The illegal immigrants dump their belongings in favor of nicer clothes to better blend in with the communities where they will be staying. (Davis, 2005) The trash left behind can consist of harmful waste including food cans, plastic bottles, various medications, paper waste, batteries, cell phones, radios, and fecal matter. The Tohono O’odham tribe has used $100,000 in government funds and $30,000 of the tribes own money to remove 40 tons of waste from 84 different places in 2005.(Davis, 2005) In 2005, the city of Tuscan, Arizona allotted $46,000 from their budget to buy a dump truck to carry off waste left behind by illegal immigrants. The money also paid for signs in English and Spanish to identify dumping sites, also gloves, visors, safety vest, and containers for people to clean up the sites. (Davis, 2005) The litter can be very damaging and dangerous to our natural wildlife and natural resources. The litter is also harmful to people as well. The government has estimated that 2000 tons of waste is what immigrants dump each year. (Davis, 2005) What makes migrant waste a problem is that waste is scattered in remote areas where it is dangerous, difficult, and expensive for garbage crews to reach and pick up. (Davis, 2005) Congress has given The Bureau of Land Management $1.3 million during the past two years to restore damage to the land and to clean up waste left behind by immigrants. (Di Rosa, 2004)

Illegal immigration is also threatening our natural water resources. Immigrants use our natural water resources as a place to bathe and to dispose of their human waste. The immigrants have fouled the few water sources in the Sonoran Desert on the Arizona-Mexico border, to the point where it is too filthy for even the wildlife to drink. (Marshall, 2004) In the areas where the water is clean enough for animals to drink, they are unable to because the immigrants are crowding out the water sources. (Reese, 2003) The runoff from the debris left after the illegal immigrants move on is also running into the natural water supply of many animals. The rivers used for human toilets are also very unclean. The toxins from human waste may cause diseases such as typhoid and dysentery. Plants are also unable to reach their full growing capacity when their only water supplies are being polluted or depleted by the illegal immigrants. In southern California, potable water is becoming precious; there are only limited amounts of potable water. People have to import potable water because it is getting scarce. There is pressure to build even more pipelines to bring water from greater distances. (Reese, 2003) This greatly needed water is being used up and polluted by the illegal immigrants.

The United States

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