Federal Lawsuit Highlights The Environmental Consequences Of Immigration

In the aftermath of the recent presidential election notable for its almost complete lack of civilized and rational debate on the issue of immigration, it is perhaps not surprising that the issue of the environmental impact of immigration has been almost completely ignored in the strident rhetoric emanating from the presidential candidates.

However, that issue is currently being addressed in a federal lawsuit filed last fall in the Southern District of California against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for failing to consider the environmental impact of it immigration policy as required by federal law in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The suit seeks enforcement of the National Environmental Policy Act which requires "any agency considering any action that will affect the environment to analyze and publicize those effects," and alleges that the DHS and the Immigration and Naturalization Service before it deliberately ignored this requirement to conduct analysis of the environmental impacts of its immigration policies and failure to enforce immigration laws between 1990 and 2010 a time when the US population grew by over 61 million people.

By now, most Americans are already aware of the staggering economic consequences of illegal immigration. A massive 500 page report recently released by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that immigration extracts as much as $296 billion dollars from hapless federal, state, and local taxpayers, depresses wages -- especially for legal immigrants and those at the lowest levels of income -- and that immigrants receive far more in benefits, both direct and indirect, than they pay in taxes. The data in the report further showed that while immigrants do boost the total size of the economy, those gains are heavily weighted toward the immigrants themselves and to the wealthiest Americans.

But while the economic impact of illegal immigration will continue to be debated by populist politicians eager to persuade low-information voters that the economic laws of supply and demand in the labor market can be countermanded by fiat, the environmental impact of illegal immigration has been almost completely ignored.

Nevertheless, there have some heartening responses to the federal NEPA lawsuit. The EPA has warned that taxpayers must be soaked for another one trillion dollars to invest in water for the geometrically growing population of the U.S. The Washington Examiner has reported the Immigration Reform Law Institute's factual allegation in the suits that "Communities are being are being harmed and overwhelmed by damage to air quality, urban sprawl, increasing demand for water, increasing water pollution, exacerbated traffic congestion, school overcrowding, loss of greenspace, farmland, forests, and wildlife. [The] massive numbers of people coming across illegally have led to the destruction of native species, garbage dumping, water pollution and fires."

Pew Research Center notes that current immigration policy will add over 100 million people to the U.S. by 2065, equal to the current combined population of California, Texas, Florida, and New York combined.

While populist bureaucrats zealously seek to enforce NEPA in areas such as building pipelines, roads, and power stations in order to fuel the bourgeoning population, they have to date given am environmental pass to bureaucrats seeking to evade or circumvent immigration laws.

Politicians focus on global warming when in fact this is the least of the environmental problems caused by population expansion and the immigration that feeds it by providing incentives for countries to deport their excess humans rather than implementing family planning and women's rights policies. Every one third of a second, earth makes room to accommodate one additional human. To provide this one human with a decent living standard, she must be provided with fuel and energy resources which, when consumed, release 3.2 tons of carbon in to the atmosphere, 2000 square meters of fresh water, and 207 GJ of energy. Their aggregate demand for living space now consumes tropical rainforests at the rate of 100 acres per minute, and waste in the cumulative amount of 355,000 metric tons of phosphorus dumped into the oceans, 27,000 tons of methane, 30,000 of sulphur, and 270,000 tons of carbon monoxide. When each additional human dies, her epitaph is written on a monument of waste and garbage 4000 times her body weight.

By requiring government to enforce environmental and immigration laws, the federal lawsuit against Homeland Security may provide a last clear chance to preserve the environment in the U.S., as well as provide an example for the rest of the world.