Trash at the Border Highlights the Environmental Cost of Illegal Immigration

Article author: 
Matthew Sussis
Article publisher: 
Center for Immigration Studies
Article date: 
20 September 2018
Article category: 
Our American Future
Article Body: 

... Indeed, one of the most direct environmental impacts of illegal immigration is one that's clearly observable to anyone who lives at the southwest border — the thousands of pounds of trash that are discarded and left behind by aliens and their hired human smugglers.

Perhaps the state hardest hit by trash at the border is Arizona, which shares 370 miles of border with Mexico. Behind only the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, Tucson, Ariz., is consistently the sector of the border with the highest number of Border Patrol apprehensions.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) estimates that over 2,000 tons of trash are discarded at the Arizona border every year. As a consequence, the department established a website entitled "Arizona Border Trash" in 2012 to coordinate and keep track of the state's trash cleanup operations. According to ADEQ, each ton of trash requires landfill fees of $37 to $49, which are footed by Arizona taxpayers. That does not include fees for materials, transportation, or labor. ADEQ further estimates that each border-crosser leaves an average of six to eight pounds of trash behind.
According to the ADEQ website, border trash "has been shown to affect human health, the environment and economic wellbeing." Included among the specific impacts are watershed degradation, soil erosion, damage to infrastructure, loss of vegetation and wildlife, and escaped campfires.
Using the list of collections from the same website, it is possible to analyze total amounts of trash collected by fiscal year, and compare those figures to the U.S. Border Patrol's monthly data on total illegal aliens apprehended by sector.
Arizona border apprehensions include data from two sectors: Tucson and Yuma, with the large majority of apprehensions (ranging from 80 percent to 95 percent) coming from Tucson....
Every illegal alien prevented from crossing our southern border represents about seven pounds of garbage that will no longer be left behind to potentially damage water systems, wildlife, and soil. As such, lawmakers ought to consider that securing the border is not just a matter of national security, but environmental security too.