My mother’s mother and my father’s mother have both lived in Arizona for as long as I can remember. I’ve spent many summers there and in recent years I have been distraught by the massive amounts of development in Phoenix and the surrounding areas.

My frustration with the development increased dramatically a few years ago when I was visiting my grandmother and I read in the newspaper that the highest temperature to be recorded in Phoenix (122 degrees, according to the CDC) is expected to become the average summer temperature (currently it’s 105 degrees) during the next 10-20 years. Why? Because natural vegetation is being removed from the desert and being replaced with pavement. In addition, the humidity is expected to rise by several percentage points because of the number of swimming pools in the state.

Later that same day we were driving to the store and I heard a talk radio guy talking about illegal immigration and it’s effects* on Arizona’s fragile desert environment and wildlife. No, he wasn’t upset about the hundreds of illegal immigrants dying* each year from crossing the borders through horrible desert climates. He was upset that they were ruining the environment in the process.

He argued that these people WALKING through the desert were ruining a fragile habitat that could never be restored. I remember him saying “once the desert is scarred it can never repair itself.” Um, hello?!?! Does removing all of the natural vegetation and paving over the desert not cause more damage than a couple hundred people walking across the desert?

There are SO many more reasons he could have used to defend his stance on illegal immigration, but he chose to try to appeal to the environmentalists instead of the humanitarians who might be concerned with the welfare of these poor people dying while trying to find a better life for themself. Well, it didn’t work on this environmentalist because the hypocrisy was so blatant.

Arizona contains some of the most beautiful scenery in this country and it is a good thing the National Park Service realized it early on, protecting many of the most beautiful sites. But it is important to realize that development in other parts of the state can still effect the protected areas like Saguaro National Park and the Grand Canyon. There is only so much the NPS can do, especially when they are continuing to lose funding from the federal government.

*These links are just examples of the arguments being made about the environment and illegal immigrants in Arizona. They are not the exact argument I heard that day.

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