Bill would allow border patrol to avoid federal laws

Molly Peterson/KPCC

Joshua Tree National Park, October 9, 2011. A group of Congressional Republicans wants to turn over control of many national parks — including Joshua Tree — to Border Patrol.

A group of Congressional Republicans wants to turn over control of many national parks — including Joshua Tree near 29 Palms— to the Department of Homeland Security.

The proposed bill covers 54 national parks within a hundred miles of the U.S. border. It would allow Customs and Border Patrol agents to use motorized vehicles and construct buildings within park limits, and grant them the ability to suspend dozens of federal laws that protect the environment and preserve historic sites.

"I think American workers are more important than flies, rats and weeds," says Republican Rep. Gary Miller of Diamond Bar.

He says keeping out undocumented workers saves American jobs.

Miller is one of eight GOP lawmakers from California cosponsoring the measure. He joins Congressmen Buck McKeon of Santa Clarita; Elton Gallegly of Simi Valley; Ed Royce of Fullerton; Ken Calvert of Corona; Wally Herger of Chico; Devin Nunes of Tulare; and Tom McClintock of Lake Tahoe.

"We think national safety and dealing with American jobs alone is reason enough to be able to have our security in there making sure our borders are safe," says Miller.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress last month the bill is unnecessary and bad policy.

The Border Patrol already has agreements with park managers to do its job on federal land.

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