The League of Conservation Voters led 8 environmental organizations in sending the below letter to the House of Representatives urging Members to oppose H.R. 4367, the 2024 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, when it comes up for a vote. The League of Conservation Voters will strongly consider including votes related to these amendments in our 2023 National Environmental Scorecard.
September 27, 2023
Re: Please oppose H.R. 4367, which would cause further irreparable damage to our border communities and leave the nation ill-prepared for natural disasters and recovery efforts.
On behalf of our millions of members and supporters, the undersigned groups urge you to oppose H.R. 4367, the Homeland Security Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bill as well as any amendments that are detrimental to our environment and public safety.
The divisive and anti-environmental border wall has caused irreparable damage to wilderness and wildlife along our southern border, creating not only ecological damage but also great harm to areas indigenous peoples regard as sacred. H.R. 4367 would expand on that disaster by spending more than $2 billion on construction of new border barriers, which will have a negligible impact on securing the border while creating more harm to communities, lands, and biodiversity.
Billions in taxpayer dollars have been spent to build hundreds of miles of unnecessary, wasteful, and harmful border wall. This construction wreaked destruction on the borderlands and the millions who call the border region home, including damaging lands sacred to the O’odham, Carrizo-Comecrudo, and Kumeyaay peoples; desecrating Native American burial sites; dynamiting pristine mountain wilderness; erecting walls in floodplains; separating imperiled wildlife populations; destroying fragile resources in national wildlife refuges, forests, monuments and other public lands; depleting ancient water sources in sensitive desert ecosystems; seizing ranches, farms, and backyards from families; risking lives by forcing migrants to cross into more remote regions; and fomenting dangerous racial hatred against migrants and Indigenous peoples.
Moreover, the construction was exempted from eighty-four cornerstone federal laws along with countless unnamed state and local laws and regulations under the waiver authority provided by the 2005 REAL ID Act. The laws that were bypassed were created to protect the environment, wildlife, religious freedom, historic and cultural sites, and taxpayers’ interest in responsible procurement. It is a fair assumption that additional construction would be constructed under the funding and provisions of this bill would be similarly exempted from crucial legal requirements, again denying the borderlands and border communities equal protection under the law.
This would only waste more taxpayer dollars and inflict more harm on the people, communities, lands, and wildlife of the border region. And all of this destruction at great expense has not even been proved to be effective in its highly questionable goal – no congressionally mandated report has ever documented the need for or the effectiveness of the wall; indeed, the Government Accountability Office has repeatedly noted these issues.
Rather than continuing to follow this destructive, misguided, wasteful, and ineffective effort to wall off the entire U.S.-Mexico border, Congress should advance provisions and funding necessary to restore and repair border communities and lands to mitigate the harms that have been inflicted on the border region as swiftly as possible.
Additionally, the legislation fails to invest the needed resources for communities to prepare for the historic weather events and underfunds the federal government’s ability to assist with recovery efforts from these tragedies, even as many communities across the country are struggling to rebuild after a summer of harmful natural disasters. H.R. 4367 also includes numerous harmful poison pill policy riders that have little to do with homeland security, such as riders barring funds for women’s and transgender healthcare services and eliminating a provision to protect potential sponsors of unaccompanied minors from being deported.
Again, we urge you to REJECT H.R. 4367, the FY 24 Homeland Security appropriations bill, which would perpetuate damages to and further harm indigenous peoples, communities, and the sensitive environment along our southern border, while promoting a hateful and dangerous agenda to ostracize many in our communities and further divide our populace.
League of Conservation Voters
Clean Water Action
Defenders of Wildlife
Natural Resources Defense Council