The following is a statement by Earthjustice president Trip Van Noppen on President Obama’s immigration announcement on the evening of Thursday, November 20:
“Earthjustice holds as a foundational principle that every human being has a fundamental right to a clean and healthy environment. Inherent in that right is the ability to participate in democratic decision-making affecting one’s health and access to a fair and impartial judiciary to ensure that the laws and rules meant to protect public health and the environment are enforced.
“However, millions of hard-working individuals in the United States who have made significant contributions to our nation and our heritage for years, if not decades, are denied this ability to protect their own health and that of their children because to do so would risk retaliation, deportation and separation from their families.
“We applaud the President for taking steps last night to eliminate the threat of deportation for millions of immigrants who have become an intrinsic part of our communities and the nation as a whole. These individuals will now be better positioned to stand up for their fundamental rights, including a right to a safe and healthy environment for their families, without fear of intimidation.
“Rather than try to tear this initiative down, Congress should step up to its responsibility and enact comprehensive immigration reform for the millions of aspiring Americans whose ability to secure justice is hampered by their immigration status. Immigrants, like many of our nation’s farmworkers who will have put the food on our Thanksgiving tables, play a fundamental role in our country yet remain in the shadows.”
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