A proposal being debated in Congress would give the U.S. Border Patrol a free hand to build roads, camera towers, helicopter pads and living quarters without any of the outside scrutiny that can modify or even derail plans to extend its footprint.

The changes would waive environmental reviews on federal lands within 100 miles of Mexico and Canada for the sake of border security.

The U.S. House approved the bill authored by Utah Republican Rob Bishop in June. But prospects in the Democratic-controlled Senate are extremely slim. And chances of President Barack Obama's signature even slimmer.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified in Congress this year that the bill was unnecessary and "bad policy."