In recent years, the intersection of immigration and environmental issues has become increasingly evident, sparking conversations and raising concerns about the impact on communities, wildlife and the environment. Magybet Mendez, the CEO of Immigo, a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, joined P.O.C. on ecoWURD to shed light on her personal journey and the pressing issues faced by immigrant communities.
Immigo, under Mendez’s leadership, focuses on reuniting families, addressing immigration challenges, creating community programs and offering much-needed support to underserved areas. Her motivation is personal. “I actually had undocumented parents for over 30 years, and I just could not understand why the system would just not let them become green card holders or convert to U.S. citizenship,” Mendez said.
Her personal experience of witnessing the separation of her parents from their extended family due to immigration hurdles inspired her to tackle these systemic issues, including the environmental impact of anti-immigration laws and tactics.
One key environmental issue that lies at the intersection of immigration and climate justice is the environmental repercussions of border walls. The Biden administration waived 26 federal laws for border wall construction, including laws like the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act. These waivers raise serious concerns, not only regarding immigration but also environmental conservation.
“The concern is always… they want to stop immigrants, so they want to build this wall that won’t work. It’s a 14th-century problem in a 21st-century world,” Mendez said.
To challenge the construction of the wall, there is a need for collective action and community involvement. Engaging in civic participation, such as attending council meetings, calling representatives and supporting immigrant-focused organizations are all effective ways to create change.
Mendez underscored the importance of dispelling immigration myths through storytelling, encouraging dialogue between different communities and fostering a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by immigrants. “I invite everybody to join forces with us,” Mendez said. “We do a lot of civic participation… Story sharing is extremely powerful.”