Student or Learner
Can anyone tell me what this means in the following paragraph?
Mr Chertoff may be taken aback by all the complaints. There was not nearly such a loud outcry in the other border states. But he has vowed to press on and seems particularly annoyed by the environmentalists. He says he has attended too many memorial services for Border Patrol agents to muster much sympathy for “the sensitivity of an owl”. Owls are one thing. Property owners are a lot harder to dismiss.
The paragraph refers to the conflicts regarding the border between Mexico and the US. Some people are in favor of building a wall, erecting various electronic cameras, high powered lights, and other surveillance devices to minimize illegal border crossings. Other people are vehemently opposed to these measures for a variety of reasons. One such group are environmentalists who fear that the environment will suffer as a result of the different measures. Of particular concern is the degradation of wildlife habitat.
Mr. Chertoff is dismissing these concerns as being insignificant when compared to protecting the safety of border patrol agents. The specific reference is probably to a species of desert owl whose migratory patterns are disrupted by high powered lights. Chertoff minimizes the concerns by framing the argument as being over the owl's sensitivity, as though it were simply a matter of inconveniencing the owls or hurting their feelings.
I hope this is helpful,