WASHINGTON (AP) - A growing number of lawmakers are working to give Border Patrol agents unfettered access to all federal lands within 100 miles of the border with Mexico and Canada to fight illegal immigration.
Federal agents must follow environmental protections that can keep them from patrolling huge swaths of land unless they are on horseback or foot. They sometimes have to wait months before getting permission to install surveillance equipment. Agents have told lawmakers that the restrictions can hinder their effectiveness.
In recent weeks, three congressional panels have moved to give the Border Patrol the authority to disregard the environmental restrictions.
Environmental groups and some Democratic lawmakers say the effort is a ruse. They say conservatives are using immigration to roll back environmental protections they have long opposed.
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