Sierra Club logoIt was notable when Bill McKibben of and Philip Radford of Greenpeace recently came out in support of immigration-reform legislation.

But it’s really notable that the Sierra Club has now joined them. Over the past decade and a half, the club has had vicious leadership battles over immigration and population. But now the board of directors, which is elected by the group’s 1.4 million members, is unanimously agreed. From Politico:

The Sierra Club’s board voted Wednesday to support comprehensive immigration reform …

The decision is a major shift for the group, which has a storied past over the issue.

Sierra Club leaders in the mid-2000s fought off an insurgent effort trying to have the club take an explicitly anti-immigration stance, with some members claiming it was needed to overcome the effects of more people living more consumptive American life styles. The effort fell apart after a pitched battle.

Other environmental groups have historically helped financially support immigration reform opponents like Numbers USA and Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Here’s the official position adopted by the Sierra Club board:

Currently at least 11 million people live in the U.S. in the shadows of our society. Many of them work in jobs that expose them to dangerous conditions, chemicals and pesticides, and many more of them live in areas with disproportionate levels of toxic air, water, and soil pollution. To protect clean air and water and prevent the disruption of our climate, we must ensure that those who are most disenfranchised and most threatened by pollution within our borders have the voice to fight polluters and advocate for climate solutions without fear.

The Sierra Club takes a position to support an equitable path to citizenship for residents of the United States who lack official documentation. America’s undocumented population should be able to earn legalization and a timely pathway to citizenship, with all the rights to fully participate in our democracy, including influencing environmental and climate policies. The pathway to citizenship should be free of unreasonable barriers, and should facilitate keeping families together and reuniting those that are split whenever possible.

If you like (or hate!) this news, you might want to check out another recent Grist post on the issue: How immigration reform can lead us to a stronger environmental movement.