DATE: March 1, 2005
TO: Board of Supervisors
SUBJECT: SUPPORT FOR INCREASED HOMELAND SECURITY AT THE U.S./MEXICO BORDER
In the post 9/11 world, securing the integrity of our borders has become one of our nation’s highest priorities. The U.S./Mexico border area extends 2,000 miles in length and is one of the busiest border areas in the world. The portion of the border that lies between San Diego County and Mexico is home to the nation’s busiest ports of entry and plays an integral role in our local economy. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most popular points of illegal entry into the United States.
The Federal government is moving forward with the construction of
the last segment of a secure triple border fence between the United
States and Mexico. The County of San Diego has spent considerable
resources, both monetary and labor, in acquiring and managing land as
part of our Tijuana River Valley Regional Park, which borders the
Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge along the western most 3 miles
of the U.S./Mexico border. Today’s action seeks the San Diego County
Board of Supervisors’ endorsement of Federal efforts to secure our
national borders by constructing a secure triple border fence, while
requesting that the Federal government protect the biological
diversity, unique sensitive habitat, and natural beauty that we all
- Direct the Chief Administrative Officer to draft a letter for the Chairwoman’s signature to the Secretary of Homeland Security and all members of the San Diego County Federal delegation expressing the County’s strong support for Federal efforts to construct a secure triple border fence.
- Direct the Chief Administrative Officer to include in the letter for the Chairwoman’s signature this Board of Supervisors’ desire that the Federal government design and engineer the border fence enhancements using best engineering practices, which will minimize the negative effects to the surrounding environment.
- Direct County staff to work with the Federal government to ensure mitigation that will offset the unavoidable damage to natural resources that will occur as a result of the fence construction, including future erosion and slope stability issues generated by the cut and fill of Smuggler’s Gulch.
- Direct the Chief Administrative Officer to communicate this Board of Supervisors’ support for the Federal border fence project as outlined in the previous recommendations to San Diego County’s Legislative Representative in Washington, D.C.
There are no fiscal impacts associated with today’s action.
Business Impact Statement
Advisory Board Statement
In the post 9/11 world, securing the integrity of our borders has become one of our nation’s highest priorities. HR 418, recently introduced by Wisconsin Representative James Sensenbrenner, contains provisions that waive all laws that impede construction of physical barriers and roads designed to deter illegal crossings along the border. This legislation is designed in part to expedite construction of the triple border fence along the U.S./Mexico border. HR 418 contains exemptions that will stop all ongoing studies required by federal law to gauge the project's full impact on the environment. HR 418 recently passed the House of Representatives and is expected to easily pass in the Senate. On arrival to his desk, the President will most likely to sign HR 418 into law.
The County unequivocally supports and stands firmly behind the Department of Homeland Security’s ongoing efforts to protect our nation against any and all threats, and to fully enforce federal immigration laws. Our Board of Supervisors has always championed public safety as our highest priority. Therefore, it is appropriate for the County of San Diego to strongly reaffirm our support of Federal efforts to enhance our border security.
The County of San Diego has spent millions of our local taxpayers’ dollars and a great deal of manpower to acquire and manage land as part of our Tijuana River Valley Regional Park, which borders the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is home to many endangered birds and plants. This beautiful 1051-acre wetland where the Tijuana River meets the sea is southern California's only coastal lagoon not bisected by roads and rail lines. The refuge is also part of the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, one of only 22 National Estuarine Research Reserves in the entire United States.
Over 370 species of birds have been recorded on the refuge and in the adjacent river valley. The endangered California Least Tern, Least Bell's Vireo, California Brown Pelican, Light-footed Clapper Rail and an endangered plant, Salt Marsh Bird's Beak can all be found on the refuge. The Western Snowy Plover, a threatened species, is a year round resident and nests on refuge beaches.
However, now that Federal government is moving forward with the construction of the triple border fence with waivers of all further environmental review, the County requests that the Department of Homeland Security make an effort to utilize best design and engineering practices in order to minimize the fence’s affect on the local environment and mitigate for unavoidable damage to natural resources.
Prior to the introduction of HR 418, I met personally with local U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to ensure my personal support of their mission and to ask that they work cooperatively with the County of San Diego in protecting the environmental resources of the Tijuana River Valley to every extent feasible. In informal discussions with local U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials my staff was assured that they do not oppose mitigation for environmental impacts proposed in the draft EIS.
Today, I ask that the Board of Supervisors formally endorse the Federal government’s ongoing efforts to secure our international border by constructing a much more secure triple border fence. Although the passage of HR 418 has waived all laws and review processes that could impede construction, I firmly believe that the Federal government can enhance the security of our nation while recognizing the biological diversity, unique sensitive habitat, and natural beauty that we all have come to treasure in the Southwest corner of San Diego County.
I urge your support.
Supervisor, First District