Liberal groups like the Sierra Club have led the charge in filing environmental lawsuits against the Trump administration in its first five months.
But there’s one environmental lawsuit against the Trump administration that liberals seem to have avoided almost entirely: the Immigration Reform Law Institute’s lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, filed on behalf of several environmentalist groups, for ignoring the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
IRLI lawyers told The Daily Caller in a recent interview that DHS has never analyzed or publicized the environmental effects of the agency’s immigration actions, as they are legally required to do under NEPA.
“NEPA says every time an agency takes a discretionary action, it has to think about the environmental impact of it and they didn’t do that,” said IRLI lawyer Julie Axelrod. “There are many immigration actions and cumulatively they have an extremely large environmental impact, they change the quality of life for the American people, which is ultimately what NEPA was about.”
“The heart of their mistake is that when they passed regulations under (NEPA), which all agencies do, they never took into account that one of their main missions, which is the implementation of immigration law, is something that can be environmentally meaningful,” she added.
Liberal groups like the Sierra Club have been of no help, IRLI said.
Immigration concerns were “common in the environmental movement really up until the turn of the century, that was a keystone of people who were active in the environmental movement including David Brower who used to be the head of the Sierra Club, talking about population and immigration together were not controversial,” said Eric Ruark of Numbers USA, an advocacy group that supports reduced immigration. “Sierra Club has entered into coalitions where environmental concerns have taken a backseat to other political priorities.”
“Most of our population growth is because of immigration and when the population grows it affects the environment in a host of ways that’s the source of urban sprawl it affects resource use such as water, food, you have traffic, you have pollution. According to the global warming theory, carbon emissions actually go up with immigration because people who immigrate typically use more carbon when they move to a new country,” IRLI lawyer Julie Axelrod explained.
The legal group filed the lawsuit at the end of the Obama administration and it has continued into the Trump years. The Department of Justice lawyers handling the lawsuit have continued stalling under the Trump administration, much like they did under when Obama was president, the IRLI lawyers said. The DOJ did not return a request for comment by press time. (RELATED: Environmentalists File Lawsuit Against DHS For Ignoring Impact Of Mass Migration)
“They’ve had seven months to respond to this lawsuit. Under the federal rules they have 60 days to begin with. They asked for two more 60 days and then right before their response was due we were trying to get a meeting and see if maybe their views on this had changed and they said ‘oh yeah give us another 30 days and we can set up a settlement discussion’ but basically they got there and it was just a ruse and it was in bad faith,” said IRLI attorney Dale Wilcox. “The head DOJ attorney basically said to Julie (Axelrod), ‘Your guy (Trump) won what more do you want?'”
In addition to environmentalist groups, other plaintiffs in the suit include residents on the southwest border who have seen their land damaged by illegal aliens crossing the border.
One such plaintiff is Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, who said she no longer feels safe out on the cattle range due to aliens crossing the border and damaging her property. The lawsuit stated: “Her grandmother’s homestead was ransacked and despoiled by illegal aliens on multiple occasions.”