Executive Director's Corner
On August 11th, federal judge Trevor McFadden, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia ruled that a lawsuit brought forth by the Massachusetts Coalition for Immigration Reform (MCIR) against three federal agencies can proceed.
In a nutshell and according to the Boston Associated Press, “A group calling for sharply limiting immigration has scored a legal victory in its federal lawsuit arguing the Biden administration violated environmental law when it halted construction of the U.S. southern border wall and sought to undo other immigration policies by former President Donald Trump.”
This is big news and it’s been a long time coming. For almost a decade Institute for Sound Public Policy (PFIR) has argued that immigration laws and policies have a direct and cumulative impact on population and consequently the environment.
Past actions on this front have included an impassioned plea in February 2020 before the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ), a body that advises the President of the United States on interpreting regulations that implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) procedural requirements. At that time, I urged them “to not gut NEPA but rather, use it to restore reasonableness to our immigration policy.”
Prior to that, we advocated for using NEPA to stem unbridled immigration and released a well-received video demonstrating our point, NEPA: Let’s Make America Green Again. And in 2018, I wrote NEPA in The Age of Trump , a column in which I bemoaned the state of environmental hardliners:
“There was a time when environmental hardliners correctly connected the dots between population growth and its harmful impact on the environment. Sadly, those folks along with their views were pushed to the side decades ago. Moreover, environmental organizations have retreated from the topic, knowing that their own big donors and Democratic politicians want unrestrained immigration policies.”
In 2016, IFSPP completed a three-year investigation culminating in a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) analyzing the long-term, effects of immigration levels on America’s environmental resources. In the PEIS the U.S. population size was projected to the year 2100 under the three alternative immigration scenarios. We carefully examined the environmental consequences increasing our population would have on:
All this is a preface to saying, that board member Linda Huhn and I couldn’t be prouder to share the news that we are plaintiffs in the MCIR lawsuit and that we endorse MCIR Co-chair Steve Kropper’s objective for this legal action:
“MCIR brought this case because we’ve long been concerned about the massive effects of immigration on the American environment—effects that are more apparent than ever with our current open borders policy. We believe that MCIR is aligned with most thoughtful Americans on the immigration issue. If NEPA had guided Federal policy since the 70s, US population might have stabilized at 250 million rather than skyrocketing to 330 million today. Had it done so, the problems of traffic congestion, sprawl, massive drought in the west, housing shortages and loss of wildlife habitat, would be far less dire.”
Essentially, we want to see NEPA invoked every time immigration laws and policies are implemented.
Now, simply being allowed to proceed with a lawsuit may not sound like much. But understand, this is the first time a lawsuit like this has gotten this far. Typically, prior lawsuits were dismissed based on standing.
As example, in April 2021, Arizona Attorney General, Mark Brnovich filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and federal officials violating NEPA over destructive immigration policies. Although this lawsuit lost its motion for a preliminary injunction at the district court level, it’s back in play now that the Trump era policy popularly referred to as Remain in Mexico was ruled to still be in force.
Julie Axelrod, Director of Litigation for the Center for Immigration Studies, filed the MCIR lawsuit noting, “it may be a procedural victory, but a victory nonetheless.” In the end, we will finally have our day in court. Oddly, it may not be a stretch to assert that “standing” was not an issue because the negative consequences of the Biden administration’s practices and policies that have allowed over 4 million people to illegally cross our southern border are being felt by so many Americans.
Looking at the self-inflicted crisis along the southern border and attempting to come to grips with it, is daunting. We’re faced with resettling a population larger than Ireland’s while at the same time prioritizing the needs of our own most vulnerable citizens. It’s a considerable challenge and begs the question, how will a win in the courtroom improve things in a meaningful way, today and for future generations to come?
For the answer I borrow from Winston Churchill. During the Battle of Britain he had this advice, “now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
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