Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Environmental Groups Support Provisions of Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Center for Biological Diversity have issued the following press release in support of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009, introduced by Representative Luis Gutierrez. The bill contains key provisions intended to ensure that the Department of Homeland Security obeys all of our nation's laws when building infrastructure on the border.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill Gets it Right at the Border
Bill Would Help Protect Wildlife from Damage of Border Walls

Washington, D.C, - A new immigration bill introduced today includes important provisions that will help protect wildlife, communities, and natural resources from damage wrought by border walls between the U.S. and Mexico.

The Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009, introduced by Representative Luis Gutierrez, includes critical components of the Border Security and Responsibility Act of 2009 (HR 2076), introduced by Rep. Raul Grijalva in April 2009.

To date, at least 633 miles of border walls and barriers have been constructed along the U.S. – Mexico border, and the construction has proceeded quickly and almost entirely without proper consultation or compliance laws.Three dozen environmental, archaeological, religious freedom, historic preservation, cultural, and other laws were waived by former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff for border wall construction.

The legislation would replace the border wall’s one-size-fits-all approach to border security with a strategy based on comprehensive analyses of the effectiveness and costs of various security measures. To address negative impacts from existing border infrastructure, the legislation would establish comprehensive monitoring and mitigation programs. The bill would also ensure full compliance with landmark laws like the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Endangered Species Act that were enacted to promote public health and protect our country’s wildlife and natural heritage.

“ Rep. Gutierrez and Rep. Grijalva deserve praise for recognizing the need for a responsible border security policy that minimizes harm to our precious borderlands, wildlife, and border communities,” said Sierra Club representative Michael Degnan.

“Much of this country’s rarest and most spectacular wildlife--including jaguar, ocelot, Sonoran pronghorn, and many other species--depend upon the borderlands for survival. This bill would restore crucial protections to such wildlife and help mitigate the widespread damage that has already been done to important habitat and migration corridors,” said Randy Serraglio, conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity.

"Laws that protect our wildlife, our water, our air, and our right to a healthful environment should never have been circumvented by the Bush administration," said Bob Irvin, Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs at Defenders of Wildlife. "This bill will restore the rule of law along America's border."