IRLI Responds to DHS on the Environmental Impact of Immigration

Press Releases

February 27, 2018

Enforcing laws protecting our environment

WASHINGTON – Attorneys for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) have filed a brief in IRLI’s case challenging the failure of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to assess the environmental impact of our nation’s immigration policies.

IRLI represents the plaintiffs in Whitewater Draw Natural Resource Conservation District v. DHS Secretary Nielsen, now before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. IRLI’s brief opposes the defendants’ motion to dismiss counts I and II of the amended complaint. In that 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 amended 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 environmental impact analysis of them has ever been done.

In its brief, IRLI shows that the scores of DHS’s environmentally-impactful actions over the years constitute eight major programs with devastating impacts on the environment. IRLI also rebuts DHS’s attempt to evade judicial review, pointing out that DHS’s deliberate decision not to do any analysis whatsoever of the environmental impacts of immigration is subject to court review under federal law.

“The defendants are refusing to be straightforward with the American people about the true environmental impact of immigration,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “In a time when the environmental impact of seemingly all government programs is expected to be laid on the table, DHS should drop political considerations and simply tell Americans the effect immigration is having on their country.”

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.

The case is Whitewater v. Nielsen, No. 3:16-cv-02583-L-BLM (S.D. Cal.).

Additional information about the case can be found at

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

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