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A group claiming that President Biden’s border policies allowing record-breaking mass migrations are negatively impacting the environment is presenting a legal challenge that flips the script on the administration, which has pushed environmental justice as its “top priority.”

The Massachusetts Coalition for Immigration Reform is a nonpartisan group that advocates for reduced mass migration, based on environmental concerns. The group filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, State Department and Department of Justice, saying that the government failed to achieve mandatory compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires an environmental impact analysis on Biden administration policies prior to implementation. 

According to the court order on Aug. 17, Judge Trevor McFadden of the D.C. Federal District Court denied all but two of the Justice Department’s motions to dismiss the environmentalists’ claims, allowing the case to continue.

“Environmental statutes like NEPA are often used in attempts to challenge government action,” William Lane, an attorney at Wiley Rein LLP and former DOJ Civil Division official, tells Fox News Digital. “The fact that most of the coalition’s claims survived the government’s motion to dismiss is a big deal. It shows that Judge McFadden is taking them seriously.”

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Migrants pictured on April 1, 2022, as the deadline for Title 42 to expire loomed.

Migrants pictured on April 1, 2022, as the deadline for Title 42 to expire loomed.
(John Moore/Getty Images)

Ken Cuccinelli, former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security under President Donald Trump, says he believes the lawsuit has a strong factual basis, telling Fox News Digital that “the trail of environmental destruction” at the southern border is “substantial.” He added that while some Democrats have been focused on priorities like the Green New Deal, they have ignored environmental damage happening “in a massive scale” along the border. 

The coalition is being represented by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), an independent think tank that conducts analysis of economic, social and other various impacts of immigration in the U.S. Two cattle ranchers along the southern border and four individual environmentalists are also named as plaintiffs.

According to the complaint, Biden’s major immigration policy decisions, including ending construction of the southern border wall; terminating Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy; preventing immigration officials from detaining and removing illegal immigrants; ending the practice of fining illegal immigrants for failing to leave the country; closing immigration courts; and expanding various refugee programs were all subject to NEPA analysis that the administration failed to obtain. 

Since taking office, President Biden has said that climate change policy is a top priority for his administration, most recently applauding the Inflation Reduction Act for its "historic investments in environmental justice," saying the new law will reduce pollution and other negative environmental factors.

Since taking office, President Biden has said that climate change policy is a top priority for his administration, most recently applauding the Inflation Reduction Act for its “historic investments in environmental justice,” saying the new law will reduce pollution and other negative environmental factors.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

“Under this administration’s essentially open border policies, which have encouraged millions of people to cross the border and settle into the United States, the massive impacts of immigration to the U.S, including degradation to the southern borderlands, our infrastructure, urban sprawl, pollution, global carbon emissions, are more obvious than ever,” CIS Director of Litigation Julie Axelrod said in a statement to Fox News Digital.

CIS says in its complaint that Congress designed NEPA to “force transparency and accountability on the administrative state” and is one of the “mechanisms through which the public can participate in federal decision-making process in connection with those federal actions impacting the environment.” 

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Since taking office, President Biden has said that climate change policy is a top priority for his administration, most recently applauding the Inflation Reduction Act for its “historic investments in environmental justice,” saying the new law will reduce pollution and other negative environmental factors. 

But Cuccinelli argues that Biden’s commitment to environmental justice is disingenuous since his administration is ignoring, if not abetting, a pollution disaster at the border.

This fiscal year alone, there have been over two million migrant encounters at the souther border, a record-setting milestone.  

The migrant crisis escalated around the time the Biden administration took office, jumping from around 72,000 encounters at the end of 2020 to 173,000 by March 2021. Since then, the numbers have not come close to dipping below the 150,000 encounters-per-month mark.

This fiscal year alone, there have been over two million migrant encounters at the souther border, a record-setting milestone. In this picture, migrants cross the Rio Grande.

This fiscal year alone, there have been over two million migrant encounters at the souther border, a record-setting milestone. In this picture, migrants cross the Rio Grande.

The White House, State Department and Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment and DOJ declined to comment. 

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Griff Jenkins contributed to this report.

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