Smokies rangers will patrol Mexican border, arrest migrants

The Trump administration has ordered rangers from national parks around the country to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border to fight illegal immigration and drug traffickers.

The directive has seen park rangers from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska, the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and Zion National Park in Utah, among others, temporarily relocate to Arizona and Texas to work with Border Patrol agents. And park officials say they’ve already been told they should continue sending park rangers to the border through September 2020.

The president continues to ask for $5 billion to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, but House Democrats did not include such funding in recent spending bills. The fight over border wall funding is the same issue that led to a five-week government shutdown at the start of the year, which sent most government workers, including park rangers, home without pay.

Critics say the president is improperly using park officials to staff up his border plan at a time when the nation’s national parks are desperately understaffed and overcrowded. They also note that the park rangers, who are accustomed to ticketing speeding drivers or extracting injured hikers from remote canyons, have little to no training in border security tactics.

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