‘Tons of trash, abandoned vehicles and dangerous campfires are common along the border…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) An immigration reform group is urging the federal government’s top environmental council to consider the damage illegal immigration is doing to the environment.
According to the Immigration Reform Law Institute, federal agencies have been turning a blind eye to such damage for years, in violation of laws dating back to the Nixon administration.
During a public comment period Thursday, the Institute implored the Council on Environmental Quality to require several agencies involved in regulating immigration to conduct a National Environmental Policy Act analysis to determine the extent of the degradation.
The agencies – in particular the Department of Homeland Security – have ignored NEPA responsibilities for decades in favor of “unchecked mass immigration,” the Institute said in its public comment filing.
“It is time for Council on Environmental Quality to stop turning a blind eye to the government’s refusal to apply NEPA procedures to population growth inducing immigration programs that harm the environment,” said Dale L. Wilcox, IRLI’s executive director and general counsel.
“After all, if CEQ won’t stand up for the environment, who will?” added Wilcox.
It’s been long understood, albeit little publicized, that illegal immigration has had devastating environmental effects along the U.S. southern border and migration routes leading into the country’s interior.
The conflict once beset organizations like the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest environmental advocacy group.
More than a decade ago, the Sierra Club was bitterly divided over the harmful effects of mass illegal immigration and population growth.
But the group has since prioritized immigration, as its leadership and funding sources have become more politically progressive.
In March, the Immigration Reform Law Institute sued the USDA Forest Service for data outlining the effects of illegal immigration on federal forest lands in California.
The requested data included information about damage to natural resources and related wildlife costs.
“One of the most under-reported stories about illegal immigration is the damage it causes to the environment in border areas,” Wilcox said. “Tons of trash, abandoned vehicles and dangerous campfires are common along the border.”
California has endured a record increase in forest fires in recent years, with 2018 being the worst in the state’s modern history.
But the problem extends beyond the nation’s first sanctuary state. Other border states are also grappling with illegal immigrant pollution.
Arizona’s border environment has been so polluted that the state government launched a website documenting its clean-up efforts.
“The collection and disposal of waste in remote areas along Arizona’s 370-mile border with Mexico poses difficult challenges. An estimated more than 2,000 tons of trash is discarded annually in Arizona’s borderland,” the website reads. “A variety of federal and state government entities, Native American tribes and private landowners are affected by the problem, and addressing it requires extensive coordination.”
The Immigration Reform Law Institute is asking the Council on Environmental Quality to clarify its regulations to specifically reflect that immigration-driven population growth poses an environmental impact requiring NEPA analyses.
Existing language only requires action for “significant” environmental impact. While meeting that bar in reality, the Institute says the agencies have carved-out wiggle-room and skirted their NEPA responsibilities for political reasons.
“To continue to refuse to hold immigration-regulating agencies accountable to NEPA’s requirements not only violates NEPA,” the Institute argues, “but completely undermines Congress’ goals and policies in enacting it.”
“The federal government needs to be transparent with the American people about the destructive impact illegal immigration has on our environment,” Wilcox said.