Readings — From the January 2017 issue

Ground Control

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From affidavits written by people across the United States that were included in a lawsuit brought against the Department of Homeland Security by the Immigration Reform Law Institute. The lawsuit, filed in October, alleges that the DHS violated federal laws by failing to consider the environmental impact of illegal migration over the U.S.–Mexico border. The case is ongoing.

The concerns of those who love the outdoors are harbingers for the rest of society. The first time I came to Colorado, I saw a big flight of geese flying over a sign that said welcome to colorado. I felt like Brigham Young looking at Salt Lake.

For me, the borderlands have always been special. I experience spiritual renewal when I am out in these vast open spaces. I am able to clear my head and my heart. It is no longer safe to find such solitude because of migrants’ attempts to cut through the country.

When I was a child, I could swim and wade in the San Pedro River. Now it is contaminated by human waste. The ground where grasses no longer grow reminds me of how much environmental damage I am suffering. Waves of invaders take a toll on me. Many people have suggested we simply move; however, the emotional ties we have make it impossible.

My family and I have picked up plastic bottles, food wrappers, clothing, diapers, pregnancy tests. We have found cows with entire blankets inside them. I do not have peace and quiet on my ranch anymore. The dogs bark in the night, making it difficult to sleep.

When I moved to Santa Barbara, I could drive from one part of town to any other in less than fifteen minutes. Most people did not lock their doors. Now a trip can take an hour and a half. Public schools are overcrowded, with a preponderance of non-English-speaking students. I must, from time to time, step over people lying on the sidewalk. When I first moved, I enjoyed hiking in the foothills. The last time I was there I was reminded of India or Bangladesh. I have not been back.

California leads the nation in the number of endemic species at risk. The California red-legged frog, the California tiger salamander, the Alameda whip snake are extirpated, nowhere to be found. Immigration numbers tell the story. I am immensely saddened by the loss of life-forms with whom we share this fragile planet.

An increased population has made camping in wilderness areas less convenient than in previous years. Camping spots require reservations. What is worse, dogs must now be leashed. Watching my dog romp through the snow gives me great pleasure. Additional population growth will diminish my enjoyment.

I moved to California thirty years ago. I could see birds, deer, and coyotes from my back yard. Since then, these open spaces have been turned into developments. Living in a crowded area produces so many stresses. Every time I think about something I’d like to do, I think about whether it is worth sitting in traffic. Usually it isn’t. Mass immigration does not add to our quality of life.

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