Progressive Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva, a strong proponent of open borders, sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano Wednesday asking her to consider the national security implications of the proposed Sasabe Lateral Gas Pipeline. Grijalva, the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, is attempting to stop the 60-mile pipeline projected to cut through what he says is the “ecologically sensitive Altar Valley southwest of Tucson.”
The pipeline will allow the El Paso Natural Gas Company to export natural gas to Mexico.
El Paso has requested a right of way to build a pipeline from Three Points, Ariz., to Sasabe, Sonora, Mexico. The company has proposed two potential routes for the project, both of which pass through the Altar Valley, an area home to the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and a major corridor for illegal immigration and smuggling.
Americans are warned about entering the Refuge due to the illegal activity and it has become a dumping ground for the debris of drug smugglers.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the lead agency responsible for granting the right of way, is preparing a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that analyzes the proposed routes and other alternatives.
Grijalva’s letter ironically cites border security concerns. In a recent letter from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol official Roger San Martin to FERC, cited security concerns, in his request to Napolitano to urge FERC to consider alternatives that avoid the Altar Valley.
Grijalva writes that FERC “should consider alternative routes that use existing infrastructure and avoid the Altar Valley.” Grijalva claims that the construction of the “pipeline along either proposed route will very likely create a corridor for illegal activity and complicate Customs and Border Patrol attempts to keep this country and its citizens safe.”
While Grijalva claims that the pipeline will make the area a corridor for illegal activity, in his letter, San martin acknowledges that the Tucson Sector still has “approximately 33 percent of all the illegal alien apprehensions and 44 percent of marijuana seizures for the entire country during Fiscal Year 2012 which ended on September 30, 2012.
In 2010, The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) which runs the Refuge has issued a travel advisory warning people about the area:
“As a result of illegal immigrants crossing our borders, other unlawful acts do occur within the Refuge. Some of the illegal immigrants are armed, dangerous, and determined to complete the trip at any cost. Most often these are smugglers and drug runners. They may drive a stolen vehicle or they may hire human ‘mules’ to carry their contraband in homemade backpacks.
These illegal routes are lined with empty water jugs and other trash. Illegal immigrants frequently stop to camp, collect wood and start fires. These fires sometimes escape and cause damage to wildlife habitat. Trash left at these sites is not only unsightly, it is unsanitary and attracts a variety of scavengers. Nearby water sources are often so fouled by pollution that wildlife can no longer use them. Some overnight rest stops are so heavily used that the damage is extensive. During the rainy seasons, trails and vehicle routes become avenues for floodwaters, further increasing the resource damage.”