IRLI Files Amended Complaint in Case on Immigration’s Environmental Impact

Press Releases

December 11, 2017

Seeking to enforce U.S. laws protecting our environment

WASHINGTON – IRLI has filed an amended complaint broadening the scope of its ground-breaking environmental lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). IRLI’s lawsuit, Whitewater Draw Natural Resource Conservation District v. DHS Secretary Nielsen, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, challenges the agency’s failure to investigate the environmental impact of our nation’s immigration policies. In its amended complaint, IRLI takes aim at eight major DHS programs, including massive employment- and family-based immigration initiatives and the (still-ongoing) DACA program.

IRLI’s complaint demonstrates how DHS has ignored our nation’s preeminent environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), for decades. Since it became law 46 years ago, NEPA has required any agency, before implementing actions or programs that will affect the environment, to issue an Environmental Impact Statement analyzing and publicizing those effects. The federal government’s immigration programs are probably the most environmentally consequential programs there are, yet no such analysis has ever been done.

Between 1990 and 2010, the U.S. population swelled by over 61 million people due to expansive immigration policies and lax enforcement. The environmental effects have been devastating, especially in states, such as California, Florida, and Colorado, where this increase has disproportionately occurred, and along the southern border, where the lives of ranchers IRLI represents have been made miserable by illegal border-crossers and drug cartels. Yet even while DHS’s policies were causing this massive influx, the agency ignored NEPA’s requirement that it analyze the environmental impacts of its decisions. For example, DHS regulations do not even acknowledge that illegal border crossing itself damages the environment.

“At a time when the environmental impact of any federal program is given high priority, it is inconceivable that the growing environmental impact of immigration has been hidden from the public even when its disclosure is required by law,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “The American people have a right to know how the environment of their country is being damaged by rampant immigration.”

IRLI represents Whitewater Draw Natural Resource Conservation District, Arizona Association of Conservation Districts, Californians for Population Stabilization (one of the members of which, former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm, filed an affidavit supporting IRLI’s amended complaint), New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, and four other plaintiffs in the case.

Additional information about the filed complaint can be found at

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]

Get Connected

Sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date with immigration reform in the United States.

Attorneys United for a Secure America (AUSA) is a non-partisan affiliation of talented attorneys dedicated to pursuing cases that serve the national interest when it comes to immigration law.

If you are interested in joining the network, visit the AUSA website.