House Republicans Demand Answers on Environmental Impact of Border Crisis
FAIR Take | March 2021
In light of the growing crisis on the southern border, Republican Reps. Paul Gosar (AZ-04) and Bruce Westerman (AR-04) sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, asking him to provide information on the environmental impact of rampant illegal immigration into the United States.
The negative impact of illegal immigration on the environment is well-documented and well-known. In fact, many of the United States’ most famous environmental advocacy groups used to vehemently oppose illegal immigration because of its detrimental impact on the country. Notably, the Sierra Club opposed increasing all levels of immigration to the United States from its founding until 1996, when the organization’s board voted to take a neutral stance on immigration, bowing to liberal activists who supported the bulk of the Club’s work. Since 2013, the Sierra Club’s position on immigration is indistinguishable from that of the open-borders lobbying groups such as America’s Voice.
Illegal immigration impacts our nation’s environmental resources in two major ways. The first, and perhaps most obvious way, is the degradation that occurs through the physical act of migrating itself (e.g., border trash, smuggling trails destroying fauna, etc.). This is what Reps. Gosar and Westerman address in their letter, writing:
For example, between 2007 and 2018, 460,000 pounds of trash discarded by illegal migrants were collected along the 370 miles of the Arizona-Mexico border… The trash left behind by illegal migrants includes human waste, backpacks, medical products, plastic, vehicles, and clothing, all of which pose risks to wildlife.
The second way that immigration affects our environment is less discussed, and considered somewhat taboo by the open-borders lobby and their allies in the mainstream media. But here’s the simple fact: any increase in our population is going to our tax natural resources, and immigration is the number one driver of population growth in the United States. Increases in the overall population of the country stress our water sources, forests, and other natural resources in some way. America’s birth rate is below replacement levels, yet our population continues to grow because of immigration. Further, most immigrants move to places with existing high population density, mainly cities, which exacerbates urban sprawl. Illegal immigration contributes to this.
Reps. Gosar and Westerman are right to raise these concerns with Secretary Mayorkas, and their questions are pertinent even outside of the current context of the Biden border crisis. FAIR applauds their environmental impact report request, and calls on the Department of Homeland Security to release this information as soon as possible.