Republican House Speaker John Boehner said President Barack Obama’s decision to make a new protected area in southern New Mexico Wednesday will put America’s border security at risk.
Obama declared a national new monument in southern New Mexico, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. The area was protected to “preserve the prehistoric, historic and scientific values of the area.” However, Boehner, citing security issues and Obama’s use of executive powers, issued a furious and lengthy statement Wednesday afternoon saying the decision represented a “level of audacity that is remarkable even for this administration.”
“For many months I have warned that the president’s fondness for unilateral action has created widespread doubt among the American people that he and his administration can be counted on to enforce any law he signs, particularly when it comes to securing our nation’s borders and reforming our immigration system,” Boehner said. “Once again, the president has chosen to bypass the legislative branch — and, in this case, do so in a manner that adds yet another challenge in our ongoing efforts to secure our Southern border.”
According to the Huffington Post, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument will be the largest monument Obama has designated so far under the Antiquities Act, “a 1906 law that allows the president to ‘protect landmarks, structures, and objects of historic or scientific interest.'” National monuments are similar to national parks except the president does not need congressional approval to establish them.
With his statement, Boehner joined a growing chorus of conservatives who have criticised the new monument.
“At a time of continued cartel violence in Mexico, we should not be putting any additional restraints on efforts to protect our borders,” Boehner said. “What’s particularly disappointing is that even Senate Democrats recognised the need for additional border security protections, including them in their own legislation on this issue. Yet the president and his administration have chosen to ignore those efforts, and the concerns that its new restrictions will place additional burdens on Border Patrol personnel and limit access to high crime areas along the border, making it easier for drug smugglers and human traffickers to move in and out of the country.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Boehner’s remarks. However, the Obama administration has recently dismissed many of the concerns raised by the monument’s opponents.
“This designation will in no way limit our ability to perform our important border security mission, and in fact provides important flexibility as we work to meet this ongoing priority,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Jenny Burke told Washington Times. “CBP is committed to continuing to work closely with the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service to maintain border security while ensuring the protection of the environment along the border.”
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