A wildfire that has been raging for over a week near Fort Garland, Colorado, has become the third largest in state history. More than 130 homes and nearly 170 square miles have been scorched in a blaze that never should have started. As of July 9, the fire is still only 55 percent contained.
Jesper Joergensen, a Danish national who is in the country illegally, has been arrested on arson charges in relation to the fire. He apparently overstayed his visa, and lived largely off the grid in southern Colorado. His Facebook page included a large amount of anti-government sentiment, and repeated use of the hashtag “anarchy2018.”
Joergensen changed his story several times after being arrested, first claiming he was trying to burn trash, and eventually claiming that the fire spread from an open pit grill. No matter how the fire actually started, Joergensen shouldn’t have been in the country to start it.
Despite illegal immigration playing a major factor in rapid population growth in the United States, as well being the source for wide-spread pollution along the U.S.-Mexico border and multiple wildfires, environmental organizations have remained largely silent on the issue. Open borders proponents have been driving donations to environmental groups for decades now, so these groups avoid the issue.
More than 600,000 visitors to the United States overstayed their visas in Fiscal Year 2016. Legitimately enforcing our immigration laws, along with enacting reforms such as a biometric entry-exit screening system and E-Verify, would help federal law enforcement prevent tragedies like this from ever having the chance to occur. Without reform, unchecked immigration, both lawful and illegal, will continue to harm the United States’ environment and wildlands.