Judge: Anti-immigration group’s environmental lawsuit can proceed

BOSTON (AP) — An anti-immigration group has won a legal victory in its federal lawsuit alleging the Biden administration violated environmental law when it halted construction of a wall on the southern border of the United States and sought to undo other immigration policies of former President Donald Trump. Trump.

A federal judge in Washington, DC, ruled Friday that a lawsuit brought by the Massachusetts Coalition for Immigration Reform against three federal agencies can proceed, at least in part.

Judge Trevor McFadden said the federal district court has jurisdiction to hear the case, though it dismissed two of the 11 claims from the Boston-area group.

The coalition argues that the Biden administration violated federal environmental law when it halted construction of the wall, ended Trump’s controversial “Remain in Mexico” asylum process, expanded refugee programs for Afghans, Central Americans and other populations, and softened certain policies for border patrol and immigration. law enforcement officers, among other measures.

The Massachusetts coalition, which advocates reducing immigration for environmental reasons, says the US Department of State, Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security should have done an environmental impact analysis before implementing the changes. immigration, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

“If NEPA is to apply to any government policy, it must be to federal policies that induce population growth,” the organization states in its complaint. “When the federal government makes a decision to create population growth through immigration, it makes a decision that produces significant and predictable environmental consequences.”

Six people from Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Arizona who say they have dealt with the environmental consequences of federal immigration policy are also named as plaintiffs.

Steven Chance Smith, an Arizona rancher, says immigrants crossing the southern border leave litter, start fires and negatively impact their land in other ways. He says his family is also concerned about the presence of drug cartel members and human traffickers.

“Life at the border during mass migrations is very stressful,” the lawsuit states. “The land is constantly being invaded and degraded.”

Judge McFadden dismissed charges alleging that the Department of Homeland Security’s instruction manual violates environmental law and that the Biden administration should have prepared a “programmatic” environmental analysis of its immigration-related actions.

Spokespeople for the three agencies named in the lawsuit did not respond to emails seeking comment Wednesday.

The Center for Immigration Studies, a DC-based group that advocates for less immigration and filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Massachusetts coalition, applauded the decision.

“The policies unilaterally implemented by the Biden Administration, which have encouraged more than a million foreign nationals to enter and settle in the United States, are the quintessential type of action to which NEPA, a law passed out of concern for the population growth, it should. apply,” Julie Axelrod, the center’s director of litigation, said in a statement Tuesday.

Biden stopped building border walls upon taking office in 2021, but has work allowed in very limited circumstances.

Earlier this month, his administration officially ended Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy that required asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings in US immigration court after the Supreme Court ruled in June that they could do so.


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