Most environmental organizations say little or nothing regarding the subject of illegal immigration. Refusing to speak out regarding this subject is not compatible with the ideals of environmentalism because of the massive environmental destruction resulting from the overwhelming number of illegal migrants coming across our southern border.

Our border with Mexico stretches along California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas for approximately two thousand miles. According to Mitch Ellis, Refuge Manager of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has the responsibility for maintaining the natural resources of 1.1 million acres of wildlife along the border. “The refuges provide significant habitat for endangered species, migratory birds, and other wildlife. Many rare and endangered wildlife species can only be found in this part of the United States. The Sonoran pronghorn, masked bobwhite quail, and many other species have their last hopes vested in these refuges along the border.”


Illegal immigration on our southern border has had a disastrous affect on our natural resources, parks, and wildlife. In December 2023, the numbers of people crossing our border reached a record high. There were a total of 249,785 arrests at the Mexican border that month, 31% up from November 2023. Since President Biden took office there have been more than 6 million illegal crossings on our southern border. The Fish and Wildlife Service, whose responsibility should not be capturing criminals has been forced to work with the Department of Homeland Security to deal with criminal activity in our parks even though their prime responsibility should be the protection of our wildlife.

The Department of Homeland Security has been overwhelmed with stopping the flow of migrants since the Biden administration loosened restrictions on migrants entering the U.S. According to Mitch Ellis,“There are border bandits operating on the refuge, arguably with relative impunity, as they target migrants, whom they rob at gunpoint. In recent months they have also committed 5 homicides, 2 rapes, and shot at least three other people while on the refuge…Another 18 bodies were recovered on the refuge over the past two years, most succumbing to dehydration or exposure.” And these are numbers for just one refuge. Other wildlife workers on other refuges are undoubtedly experiencing the same number of deaths, destruction, and unabated criminality. The Fish and Wildlife Service has had to deal with the “increased boldness” of illegal migrant criminals – stealing government equipment and destroying property that was meant to be used to protect our parks and wildlife.

Over 1300 miles of illegal trails and roads have been created by illegal migrants, directly damaging the landscape and destroying vegetation and causing wildlife disturbance and erosion. Migrants cut fences and leave gates open, allowing cattle to trespass on the refuges, often cattle coming in from Mexico. Instead of monitoring visitors to the parks, checking fences, and patrolling for poachers, the Wildlife Service is forced to spend their time and money dealing with criminal activity.


Thousands of migrants camp in national parks. The amount of trash they leave behind is tremendous and national parks in the United States have been severely affected by issues of increased trash. Some of the most severely affected areas include the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, the Ironwood Forest National Monument, and the Sonoran Desert National Monument in Arizona. Trash that affects these lands includes soiled baby diapers, human waste, empty food containers, and personal items. These items are often discarded near streams and rivers, where they seep into the soil and contaminate the water and destroy wildlife habitat.

According to the records of the state of Arizona, in 2011 and 2012 they recorded 120,000 border apprehensions and were forced to deal with over 65,000 pounds of border trash. In subsequent years “apprehensions fell as low as 70,000 and border trash collections dropped, reaching a low of 19,000 pounds in 2015. That changed dramatically in 2018. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality “estimated that each border crosser leaves approximately six to eight pounds of trash behind, consisting of human waste, backpacks, medical products, plastic, vehicles, and clothing, all of which pose risks to wildlife, including several endangered species, that live in in border regions.” 

Smugglers and illegal immigrants cause thousands of acres to burn down each year due to abandoning fires used for cooking. In 2005, three fires caused damage to more than 1500 acres of land in the Sonoran Desert National Monument. Migrant criminal organizations are involved in marijuana outdoor cultivation contributing to “chemical contamination and alteration of watersheds; diversion of natural water courses; elimination of native vegetation; wildfire hazards; poaching of wildlife; harmful disposal of garbage, non-biodegradable materials, and human wastes, including dumpsites of highly toxic insecticides, chemical repellants, and poisons purchased by drug trafficking organizations, and transported into the country through the southern border.” Special agent Robert Hammer, with the Homeland Security Investigations, Pacific Northwest, stated, “Americans would be stunned if they realized the prevalence of modern-day slavery associated with illegal marijuana grows…These grows are primarily controlled by two major Mexican cartels – the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco Cartel – but they also have links to criminal networks in China, Bulgaria and Russia.

35% of the land on the U.S. Mexican border is Native American land. The Tohono O’odham Nation spends about $3 million each year “to help meet the U.S border security responsibilities.” Their police force spends more than a third of its time working on border issues, “including the investigations of immigrant deaths, illegal drug seizures and human smuggling.” To put such a heavy burden on tribes and local communities while the administration keeps the floodgates open is grossly unfair.


Illegal immigration is a clear threat to animals that live on the border, but it is also a threat to endangered animals all around the world. Along with human trafficking and drug trafficking, the illegal wildlife trafficking coming across the United State’s southern border is a $10 billion industry. These animals don’t all come from our southern neighbors, but some come from distant third-world nations, many of them considered to be exotic. Between 1982 and 2016, there were 4,968 seizures of endangered live animals by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. These animals come from countries like Indonesia, Mexico, and Australia. 257 species that are being smuggled face the threat of extinction. Smugglers also import parts of animals such as rhinoceros’ horns, elephant ivory, and other animal products.

Illegal immigration is heavily tied in to illegal coral trade. In the past, coral seizures made up about half of all seizures, though it has declined relative to other seizures since 2009. Coral trafficking is a serious problem because coral is an important part of the ocean ecosystem. It provides a home for much of life in the oceans and a barrier along the coast against storms. 

Criminal networks that already smuggle humans across the border take advantage of the networks they’ve established, sending animals on these same routes. The most common areas of smuggled animal seizures are New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, and Miami – the places with the largest populations of illegal immigrants.

There have been laws passed like END (Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt Wildlife Trafficking Act) that are intended to elevate the punishment of animal smuggling. However, government officials agree that the smuggling of animals is heavily tied to illegal immigration, and that reducing illegal immigration would bring down animal smuggling as well.


What we must understand is that agreeing to unlimited border crossings is not a compassionate stance. Many of these migrants are abused by trafficking organizations and must pay thousands of dollars just to come over the border.

Life is not easy for many Americans right now. We face extremely high costs of living, food, rent, and many products cost much more here than they do in places like Mexico. California is going through a continuous water crisis. Officials have enacted water saving initiatives aimed at getting citizens to curb water use. To produce one pound of beef, it takes over 1,847 gallons of water, or enough to fill 39 bathtubs all the way to the top. It takes 4.5 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk. We know that Americans are the highest consumers of beef in the world. People who move here and adopt the American lifestyle are unfortunately going to imitate the bad habits of most Americans, like consuming huge amounts of meat and dairy. Initiatives that encourage us to take fewer showers or use less water for lawns mean very little when many thousands of migrants are allowed into California every year. Not only that, migrants who end up consuming a western diet contribute to more cases of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and the overloading of our healthcare system.


We find it unfathomable that the administration is ignoring the massive amounts of drugs, specifically fentanyl, coming into this country, which has doubled in the past few years. 107,622 people in the U.S. died of drug overdoses in 2021, two thirds of it from fentanyl. Fentanyl kills more people than gunshots. One person dies every 7 minutes from fentanyl. In 2022, 50 pounds of fentanyl were confiscated at the southern border. What will it take for the administration to act on stopping the influx of the deadly drugs? Yes, banks in the U.S. working with the cartels are making billions of dollars, but shouldn’t our government be working for us and not for banks and drug cartels?


While environmentalists have said little or nothing regarding the catastrophic affect illegal migrants have had on our environment and wildlife, they were very concerned about the border wall erected by Trump. They rightly asserted that the wall creates a barrier to wildlife migration and puts animals in danger of extinction. Jaguars that live in the U.S. will be cut off from their breeding population in Mexico with no hope of finding a mate and reproducing. The dangers to wildlife of a wall that stretches across the entire border is very real. A way must be found to create a barrier against human migration that also allows animals to move back and forth.

One thing is for certain, increased border security is absolutely essential. The number of border guards needs to be quadrupled. The Biden administration’s policy of allowing migrants to apply for asylum and remain in the U.S. and never be heard from again must end. Under Title 42 during the Trump administration, border agents were allowed to turn migrants away at the border. This policy must be restored. Biden’s attempt to turn national parks into illegal migrant housing as he tried to do by leasing Floyd Bennett Field in New York, bypassing local, state, and federal and environmental laws is completely unacceptable.

Illegal immigrants on the streets of New York and at Chicago’s O’Hare’s Airport 


Migration needs to be controlled. The anything-goes attitude of mass migration is not at all compatible with securing a safe and successful future for all of our citizens. We need real limits and rules, not just to end human trafficking and suffering, but also to protect our health, our environment, and our wildlife. We have thousands of people coming into this country illegally, including members of Mexican and South American gangs who are bussed to New York, Chicago, New York, Atlanta and other cities, their housing to be paid for by local citizens. Many thousands of them will end up living in poverty with no hope for a better life. Others will commit crimes and cause inner city turmoil and strain the limited resources of law-abiding citizens. Environmental activists and organizations need to wake up to the realities of an out-of-control southern border and help find solutions. Mass illegal immigration benefits no one and is an ongoing disaster for our environment and wildlife.

Email President Biden and tell him to use his power of Executive Order to stop the unlimited flow of migrants across our southern border in order to protect our citizens, our environment, and the endangered species that are in peril because of his failure to act. Hiding behind Congress and their refusal to pass an ineffectual bill is a pathetic excuse to do nothing. Tell him he has the power to stop the flow right now.

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