Massachusetts Coalition for Immigration Reform v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA MASSACHUSETTS COALITION FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM, et al., Plaintiffs, Case No. 1:20-cv-3438 (TNM) v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, et al., Defendants. MEMORANDUM AND ORDER The Massachusetts Coalition for Immigration Reform (MCIR) and six individuals (collectively, the Coalition) challenge the Biden Administration’s immigration actions—on environmental grounds. The Coalition contends that three federal agencies have not complied with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires agencies to perform environmental impact analysis before taking certain actions. According to the Coalition, the agencies’ disregard of NEPA caused environmental harm. The agencies move to dismiss all claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim. At this initial stage, the Court finds that it has jurisdiction. But the Court dismisses two claims: that the DHS’s Instruction Manual violates NEPA and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (Count I) and that the Biden Administration should have prepared a “programmatic” environmental analysis of its immigration-related actions (Count XI). The Manual does not qualify as “final agency action” so this Court cannot hear an APA challenge to it. And the Coalition’s programmatic challenge is not reviewable under the APA because it is not a 1 “discrete” agency action. The Coalition’s remaining claims survive the Government’s Rule 12(b)(6) objections. I. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires agencies to conduct environmental impact analysis before undertaking “major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.” 42 U.S.C. § 4332(2)(C). “Major federal actions” include “new and continuing activities . . . financed, assisted, conducted, regulated, or approved by federal agencies” and new agency rules, regulations, and policies. 40 C.F.R. § 1508.1(q)(2). In a recommendation or report proposing a major Federal action that significantly affects the environment, agencies must include a detailed statement—called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)—about the action’s projected environmental effects, the feasibility of alternatives, and more. See 42 U.S.C. § 4332(2)(C)(i-v). Instead of an EIS, an agency may conduct a preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) to determine whether a particular action might significantly impact the environment at all. If the answer is yes, an EIS becomes necessary. See 40 C.F.R. § 1501.5. These “action-forcing” provisions of NEPA and accompanying regulations require agencies to take a “hard look” at the environmental consequences of their actions. Robertson v. Methow Valley Citizens Council, 490 U.S. 332, 350 (1989). Agencies must also share any EIS with the public, see 42 U.S.C. § 4332(2)(C)(v), so that potentially affected individuals can comment. See Competitive Enter. Inst. v. Nat’l Highway Traffic Safety Admin., 901 F.2d 107, 123 (D.C. Cir. 1990). Though NEPA “simply prescribes the necessary process” without “mandat[ing] particular results,” its “procedures are almost certain to affect the agency’s substantive decision.” Robertson, 490 U.S. at 350. 2 Plaintiff MCIR is a non-partisan group whose members have both professional and recreational interests in the quality of the environment. See Am. Compl. (“Compl.”) ¶¶ 26–30, ECF No. 17. And MCIR believes that mass immigration has had “distinctly negative effects on [the] environment.” …

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Source: All recent Immigration Decisions In All the U.S. Courts of Appeals