Description: Lawsuit asserting that the Biden administration should have complied with the National Environmental Policy Act before changing course on immigration polices.
Arizona v. Mayorkas
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 04/28/2022 Order Download Motion to dismiss granted in part and denied in part. Arizona Federal Court Dismissed Arizona’s NEPA Challenges to Biden Administration Immigration Actions. The federal district court for the District of Arizona granted in part the federal government’s motion to dismiss Arizona’s lawsuit contending that the federal government failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), acted arbitrarily and capriciously, and failed to comply with the Constitution’s Take Care Clause when the Biden administration took immigration-related actions to implement what Arizona called a “Population Augmentation Program.” Actions challenged included the halt of construction on the border wall and the rescission of the Migrant Protection Protocols (which required migrants who passed through Mexico on their way to the U.S. to remain in Mexico during immigrating proceedings). The State alleged that these actions would result in additional migrants entering the United States and Arizona, which would have a “direct and substantial impact on the environment in Arizona,” including increases in “the release of pollutants, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which directly affects air quality.” The court found that Arizona failed to state a claim that defendants violated NEPA by failing to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement and also dismissed, on standing grounds, claims stemming from the termination of border wall construction due to a failure to establish that the termination caused the alleged injuries. The court alternatively found that the complaint failed to state NEPA or Take Care Clause claims with respect to the termination of border wall construction. The court allowed Arizona to amend its complaint to attempt to cure the deficiencies related to standing for the arbitrary-and-capricious challenge to the termination of border wall construction, but denied Arizona’s motion to conduct jurisdictional discovery. The court also directed the parties to file supplemental briefing on whether claims related to the MPP were moot due to intervening judicial decisions and Biden administration actions. 04/15/2022 Tentative Ruling Download Tentative ruling provided in advance of motion hearing. 02/07/2022 Order Download Motion for preliminary injunction denied. Arizona Federal Court Denied Preliminary Injunction in NEPA Challenge to Immigration Policies. The federal district court for the District of Arizona denied the State of Arizona’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the State’s lawsuit asserting that the federal government failed to consider the environmental impacts—including increased greenhouse gas emissions—of a collection of immigration policies that allegedly would cause the population of the U.S. and Arizona to increase. The court found that a 2021 Ninth Circuit decision foreclosed Arizona’s challenge under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to “an amalgamation of individual programs and policies.” The court also found that the same Ninth Circuit decision undermined Arizona’s challenge to the cessation of border wall construction because it cast doubt on “the so-called ‘enticement theory’ of environmental harm on which the State largely relies to establish causation.” The court also concluded it was unnecessary to consider a challenge to rescission of the Migrant Protection Protocols (which provided that individuals remain in Mexico during their immigration proceedings) because the Fifth Circuit already had upheld a permanent injunction requiring the overturning of the rescission. 01/27/2022 Order Download Court issued tentative ruling that would deny motion for preliminary injunction. 12/10/2021 Reply Download Reply filed in support of motion to dismiss. 11/18/2021 Response Download Response filed by Arizona to motion to dismiss. 10/15/2021 Reply Download Reply filed in support of Arizona's motion for preliminary injunction. 10/01/2021 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss filed. 09/03/2021 Motion Download Opposition filed by defendants to motion for preliminary injunction. 07/12/2021 Complaint Download First amended complaint filed. 04/11/2021 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Arizona Alleged that Halting Border Wall Construction and Ending “Remain in Mexico” Program Required NEPA Review. The State of Arizona filed a lawsuit in federal court in Arizona asserting that federal defendants should have complied with the National Environmental Policy Act before they changed course on immigration policies such as the border wall and halting the “Remain in Mexico” program. The State alleged that the policy changes would result in additional migrants entering the United States and Arizona, which would have a “direct and substantial impact on the environment in Arizona,” including increases in “the release of pollutants, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which directly affects air quality.” The State contended that population grown was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendants’ actions and that the actions therefore should be held unlawful for failure to comply with NEPA.