Lawsuit Charges Environmental Impacts of High Legal, Illegal Immigration Ignored

Article publisher: 
Immigration Reform Law Institute
Article date: 
October 19, 2016
Article category: 
Our American Future
Medium
Article Body: 

Whitewater Draw Natural Resource Conservation District
v.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

 

The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed this lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for ignoring our nation’s preeminent environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

For the last 46 years, NEPA has required any agency considering an action that will affect the environment to analyze and publicize those effects. NEPA’s essential purpose is “to help public officials make decisions that are based on understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment.”

DHS, like its predecessor agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), has never considered or analyzed the enormous impacts to the human environment caused by legal and illegal immigration, as required by NEPA.

Between 1990 and 2010, the US population grew by over over 61 million people due to expansive immigration policies and lax enforcement–yet even over this intense period of immigration, DHS (and the INS before it) has ignored NEPA’s requirement to conduct analysis on the environmental impacts of its policies. Disturbingly, U.S. total population will grow to almost 417 million by 2060—108 million more than in 2010. Immigration will account for about 80% of our population growth in the coming decades.

As a result of the INS and DHS's failure to abide by NEPA, communities across America are being harmed and overwhelmed by damage to air quality; increasing urban sprawl; increasing demand for water; increasing water pollution; exacerbated traffic congestion; school overcrowding; loss of green space, farmland, forests and wildlife, and other non-renewable resources. Also, when massive numbers of people cross the border illegally, they leave a host of environmental impacts in their wake, such as: the destruction of native species and habitats by trampling over the native vegetation; garbage dumping on a massive scale; water pollution; fires for the purposes of heat, cooking, or to distract Border Patrol agents (many of which turn out of control and destroy vast swaths of naive land); not to mention the destruction of property, livestock, and the peaceful enjoyment of personal property.

Plaintiffs' Claims

This case addresses a class of discretionary actions taken by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. These myriad actions concern the entry and settlement of multitudinous foreign nationals into the United States. Like its predecessor agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”), DHS has turned a blind eye regarding the environmental impacts, including the cumulative impacts, of its actions concerning foreign nationals who enter and settle into the United States pursuant to the agency’s discretionary power. The resulting environmental impacts from these actions are significant and an analysis of these impacts by DHS is required pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and its implementing regulations. But DHS, like INS before it, undertakes no such NEPA review. Accordingly, DHS is acting in contravention of its legal obligations.

The core purpose of NEPA is to ensure that, before a federal agency undertakes a federal action, its decision makers consider the range of potential environmental impacts the action may have on the environment. NEPA embodies the nation’s policy of ensuring that decisions affecting the human environment are made with eyes wide open and in full view of the public so that all stakeholders may understand the implications of federal actions on the natural resources that we all depend on, in one way or another. NEPA “help[s] public officials make decisions that are based on understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment.” 40 C.F.R. § 1500.1 (2016) (Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) regulations). DHS is woefully deficient in carrying forth this mandate...

Read more details about the Plaintiffs' Claims.

See the Complaint and Exhibits.

 


 

Related

Immigration Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Read the final version of the Environmental Impact Statement.

Illegals destroying border: Garbage, wild fires, trampling rare species, plants, by Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, October 17, 2016:

...Decades of legal and illegal Immigration, expected to surge even higher in the coming years, is destroying the country's environment and the federal government is illegally is turning a blind eye to the problem, according to a new lawsuit filed against the Department of Homeland Security.

In the suit, the Immigration Reform Law Institute charged that DHS has opened the doors to legal and illegal immigration without considering the environmental impact, a strict requirement covering virtually all federal actions.

Legal Immigration, said the suit, is causing overpopulation, pollution, congestion. Illegals, meanwhile, are destroying the border environment with garbage, wild fires and trampling rare species and plants...

Between 1990 and 2010, the US population grew by over over 61 million people due to expansive Immigration policies and lax enforcement–yet even over this intense period of immigration, DHS (and the INS before it) has ignored NEPA's requirement to conduct analysis on the environmental impacts of its policies. Disturbingly, U.S. total population will grow to almost 417 million by 2060—108 million more than in 2010. Immigration will account for about 80% of our population growth in the coming decades...

As a result of the INS and DHS's failure to abide by NEPA, communities across America are being harmed and overwhelmed by damage to air quality; increasing urban sprawl; increasing demand for water; increasing water pollution; exacerbated traffic congestion; school overcrowding; loss of green space, farmland, forests and wildlife, and other non-renewable resources. Also, when massive numbers of people cross the border illegally, they leave a host of environmental impacts in their wake, such as: the destruction of native species and habitats by trampling over the native vegetation; garbage dumping on a massive scale; water pollution; fires for the purposes of heat, cooking, or to distract Border Patrol agents (many of which turn out of control and destroy vast swaths of native land); not to mention the destruction of property, livestock, and the peaceful enjoyment of personal property.

Environmentalists File Lawsuit Against DHS For Ignoring Impact Of Mass Migration, Daily Caller, October 19, 2016:

The complaint against the DHS states: “The primary factor driving U.S. population growth is international migration. Immigrants from abroad add directly to the nation’s population by their arrival and by the children they have after they come. Because the fertility of American women has been at or below replacement level for many years — 2.1 children per women- absent immigration there would be very little long-term population growth in the United States.”

Former Colorado Democratic Gov. Richard D. Lamm is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. He is on the advisory board for Californians for Population Stabilization. He said in an affidavit, “That unspoiled, beautiful Colorado that stirred me so deeply has fallen victim to population growth, which is inseparable from mass foreign immigration.”...

IRLI points to 32 actions undergone by DHS that the agency has not considered the environmental impact of. This includes a variety of asylum policies, prosecutorial discretion, and President Obama’s executive amnesty...

The environmentalist's case against a free-wheeling immigration policy, by Former Gov. Richard Lamm, The Hill, October 20, 2016:

...Since the nineties onwards, the silence on the negative effects of runaway population growth in America has been deafening. This is why I’ve joined a lawsuit filed this week challenging our immigration authorities on failing to calculate the costs of their population growth-inducing policies...

I’ve watched Colorado go from a lovely state with a high quality of life to a Colorado whose front range (from Pueblo to Fort. Collins) is rapidly becoming a Los Angeles of the Rockies. That unspoiled, beautiful Colorado that stirred me so deeply growing up has fallen prey to unchecked, immigration-induced population growth...

The environmental damage that results from population density hits semi-arid Colorado worse than other places of the country. We are an oasis civilization, living on the snow that collects in our high mountains in the winter. Denver would not exist but for the snows in our mountains.

Now, with our population having grown 150 percent since 1970, these resources are becoming pressured, similarly to other high-immigration states, like California, which has grown so fast due to immigration, Denver’s become a magnet for it crowded-out and exasperated residents...

the environmentally destructive effects of urban sprawl is directly related to immigration-induced population growth. And while runaway population growth is bad for America, it’s also bad for the world. Take greenhouse gases — because America produces so much more than the rest of the world, more Americans equals more strain on the planet.

The NEPA was supposed to have stopped this kind of ill-considered population growth. In the sixties and seventies, the environmental movement understood how important population stabilization was to everything it stood for.

The NEPA, the bedrock of our environmental law, was designed to provide for environmentally informed decision-making and public outreach on the part of federal agencies. All the consequences and potential environmental problems of an agency’s actions must first be carefully considered, that was the logic of the statute...

If DHS/INS had followed the NEPA, as it was supposed to, perhaps our relentless pursuit for “smart growth,” “new urbanism,” LEED building strategies, or sustainable water and energy policies might actually start baring some real fruit. In other words, perhaps we wouldn’t be running so hard environmentally just to stand still.

For this reason, I, along with several other concerned citizens and activists, have joined the lawsuit filed by the Immigration Reform Law Institute in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California against the DHS. Our government can no longer ignore its moral and legal responsibility to protect the environment from our growing and excessive population.