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Saguaro cacti at Tinajas Altas, Arizona. Photo: Kevin Shafer, ILCPSaguaro cacti at Tinajas Altas, Arizona. Photo: Kevin Schafer, ILCP

Sierra Club is concerned that specific proposals to address the issue of immigration can have unintended consequences for the environment and human rights.

The REAL ID Act of 2005 gave the Secretary of Homeland Security – an unelected official – the authority to waive any law in order to expedite construction of infrastructure along our shared international border with Mexico. This authority has been used multiple times, with the result of waiving three dozen landmark federal laws designed to protect environmental, archaeological, historical and cultural values.

To date, infrastructure has been built across more than 600 miles of our shared international border with Mexico. Walls have separated families, caused damaging floods and erosion, and fractured habitat and migration corridors vital to wildlife that has been pushed to the brink of extinction.

The Sierra Club takes a strong stance against policies that promote environmental degradation and quash public participation, including those that provide for destructive border enforcement activities.  We support changes to current border policy that include:

  • Ensure full compliance with laws intended to protect air, water, wildlife, culture, and public health and safety by repealing Section 102 of the REAL ID Act. This section states “… the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive all legal requirements such Secretary, in such Secretary's sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads ...”
  • Allow land managers, local officials, and local communities to have a say in border security decisions, requiring full public notice and participation.
  • Develop initiatives to help mitigate damage to communities and natural resources, including the network of congressionally protected public lands along the border.
  • Develop better interagency cooperation among enforcement agencies such as the Border Patrol and land management entities such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Sierra Club also seeks to address the root causes of migration while respecting individual human rights, dignity, and economic aspirations. U.S. migration policy is divorced from policies on agricultural subsidies, trade, security, international development lending and family planning, all of which have a tremendous impact on the pressure to migrate into the United States.

Over 40 percent of the land along our southern border is protected public land.  The Sierra Club works to preserve these national treasures, support positive legislation, promote fair trade, end tragic border deaths, and ensure compliance with environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Support the protection of the Borderlands NOW!

Email or call your Washington DC Representatives today and ask them to:

  • Oppose Congressional efforts to build more walls
  • Support allowing the Department of Interior to use Department of Homeland Security mitigation funds to acquire land for conservation
  • Repeal section 102 of REAL ID!!!

To learn more about the Sierra Club Borderlands Campaign, look us up on Facebook, online at, or contact Sean at

Border Home Page

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Borderlands Map

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