Mark Brnovich seeks injunction, says Joe Biden’s immigration policies harm the environment

A pair of migrant families from Brazil pass through a gap in the border wall to reach the U.S. after crossing from Mexico in Yuma, Ariz., on Thursday, June 10, 2021, to seek asylum. Eugene Garcia / AP

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has filed an amended complaint and moved for a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration’s termination of border wall construction and the Remain-in-Mexico policy, saying the measures violated the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

Brnovich first presented his lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in April, alleging the administration has not complied with its obligations under NEPA.

Joe Biden fulfilled his campaign promise and ended border wall construction on his first day in office by freezing the military funding used and ending the national emergency declaration along the border that former President Donald Trump instigated to finance construction.

Biden also ended the Trump administration’s Remain-in-Mexico policy, more officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which kept migrants in Mexico until their hearings were processed. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in the memo ending MPP that it did not “adequately or sustainably enhance border management.”

Brnovich’s office alleges in the lawsuit the DHS did not provide the required NEPA environmental impact statements or environmental assessments when it ended construction and the MPP policy. The office said combining these actions and the federal government’s reduced attention to border security has increased the number of migrants crossing the southwest border illegally.

Brnovich cited statistics that said the U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered 180,034 migrants along the southwest border in May. Each border-crosser leaves an estimated quantity of six to eight pounds of trash in the desert, including plastic containers, clothing, backpacks, food, vehicles, bicycles, and paper, as well as human waste and medical products, all of which can harm the environment and its inhabitants, according to the attorney general’s office.

“There is no doubt that the Biden Administration’s immigration policies are causing a humanitarian, public safety, and environmental crisis at our border,” Brnovich said in a statement. “I will do everything I can to stop their destructive actions and protect Arizona.”

The injunction would require the Biden administration to analyze the environmental effects of its policies, rescind its cancellation of border wall construction contracts, refrain from further measures without conducting the environmental analysis required by NEPA and reinstate the MPP until a proper environmental analysis is completed.

Several other Republican-led states, including Texas and Montana, also have sued the DHS for the Biden administration’s immigration policies.

By Elizabeth Troutman | The Center Square contributor