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Scrapbook: Arizona Activist Wins Human Rights Award for Border Work

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Sierra Club Scrapbook

March 05, 2008

Arizona Activist Wins Human Rights Award for Border Work

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Arizona Sierra Club activist Sean Sullivan, co-chair of the Grand Canyon Chapter's Rincon Group, received the Justicia de Corazon award on March 2 from Tucson-based Derechos Humanos (Human Rights Commission) for his work on border issues.

Sullivan, pictured above with Carolyn Campbell of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection (l), and his mother, Linda Sullivan (r), has lobbied Congress to support the Borderlands Conservation and Security Act, which would ensure that environmental protections are addressed as changes are made to border infrastructure. He also developed a grassroots educational outreach program through the Sierra Club to inform people about the realities and costs of U.S. border policy and the underlying causes of migration.

"We want to engage elected officials and Sierra Club membership across the country and educate them about the border wall," Sullivan says. "The Secure Fence Act of 2006 cuts a whole ecoregion in half, and many species, some of them endangered, need to use both sides of the border to continue viable populations. The public process was pulled out from under our feet with the Real ID Act of 2005, which gives the secretary of Homeland Security the authority to waive all state and federal laws."

Sullivan has been a leader in promoting the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, protecting wildlife habitat and corridors, and defending special places like the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. An ongoing component of his work is integrating environmental protection and human rights. "With NAFTA and the maquilladoros along the border, we see that those who exploit people are the same ones who exploit and pollute the land. You're not going to be able to protect one without the other. If people can live safely and modestly in a sustainable way it will go a long way to achieving environmental protection."

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