Citing the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), Arizona's Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security today that asks the U.S. District Court in Arizona to void the decisions to stop border wall construction and the "Remain in Mexico" policy. The press release states:
NEPA protects the environment by requiring federal agencies to carefully weigh environmental considerations before taking any major federal action. As the drafters of NEPA recognized, population growth has significant environmental impacts. In its complaint, the AGO argues that DHS and other federal officials did not provide environmental impact statements or environmental assessments when DHS abruptly halted ongoing border wall construction and also began permitting entry of additional migrants by ending the "Remain in Mexico" policy."
According to Brnovich, by "allowing more and more people to come into this country," the policy changes are "having a devastating impact on our environment and also impacting the increase in population, which will have all sorts of impacts down the road."
The "Remain In Mexico" policy, which was implemented in 2019, required asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims were adjudicated. The Biden administration announced they were rescinding the policy on President Biden's first day in office.
The border wall has long been criticized for breaking up wildlife corridors for migrating species. Strategic fencing has also proven to be effective at reducing illegal immigration, which itself poses a threat to sensitive ecosystems.
The press release from Brnovich's office concludes with a statement on the "Impact of Increased Population on the Human Environment":
Thousands of additional individuals have settled and continue to settle in Arizona than otherwise would have as a result of DHS' actions. Migrants, like everyone else, need housing, infrastructure, hospitals, and schools. They drive cars, purchase goods, and use public parks and other facilities. All of these activities have significant environmental impacts, including displacement of undeveloped lands and additional air emissions. But although courts have repeatedly recognized that these impacts must be analyzed under NEPA, DHS has never even attempted to do so."
Updated: Mon, Apr 26th 2021 @ 4:40pm EDT