In one recent incident in Garfield County, Utah an illegal alien grow worker was armed with a shotgun and confronted six teenage girls who inadvertently hiked into the marijuana field. The worker brandished a shotgun and demanded to use their cell phone. Fortunately, the group of girls were able to run away from this armed man and prevented what could have been a very tragic outcome. The girls were quite traumatized and reported the incident to local police. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the local authorities apprehended the man a short time later.
So far this year in Utah, as a result of joint investigative efforts between federal, state and local law enforcement, 20 arrests have been made in connection with the outdoor cultivation of marijuana on federal lands. Out of the 20 arrests made, 19 were illegal aliens. This is not a problem that is unique to Utah. Other states with substantial federal lands are also seeing a spike in marijuana cultivation by Mexican drug trafficking organizations, including Colorado, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Michigan.
It is for this reason why my legislation would provide tougher penalties for cultivating marijuana on federal lands and destroying the environment. Provisions of this legislation would also require the Office of National Drug Control Policy to formulate a comprehensive and coordinated action plan to address marijuana cultivation on federal lands. This plan will be a broad strategic approach to disrupt Mexican drug trafficking organizations' central source of revenue and a key reason for organized alien smuggling.
Mr. President, the fight to control the border is no longer isolated to just the physical boundary between the United States and Mexico. Securing the border now means addressing Mexican cartels; prohibiting mass deferral or parole; streamlining the visa process; requiring participation in key law enforcement programs; clamping down on identity theft; tracking the amount of welfare benefits being diverted by illegal immigrant households, ensuring that dollars are being used to cover newly eligible American children in CHIP and Medicaid; and keeping our great national parks and federal lands safe and free from drug traffickers, drug cultivation, and environmental damage.
Let me conclude by saying this bill represents key issues that are important to my Utah constituents and Americans across the country. They are common sense solutions to strengthen our commitment to legal immigration and American's security. I urge my colleagues to partisanship aside and support this bill.
I yield the floor.
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