FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2023
Spencer Tilger | firstname.lastname@example.org
“THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT THE HURRICANE. [GANGS] COLLECT THE PAYMENTS JUST THE SAME”: NEW REPORT HIGHLIGHTS IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON ASYLUM SEEKERS
(New York, NY) – Today, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), and Human Security Initiative (HUMSI) released “Climate of Coercion: Environmental and Other Drivers of Cross-Border Displacement in Central America and Mexico,” a report analyzing the impact of climate change and climate-related disasters on people seeking humanitarian protection at the U.S.-Mexico border. The report is based on 38 interviews in Tijuana shelters with Guatemalan, Honduran, Mexican, and Salvadoran asylum seekers, conducted in January 2023 by HUMSI and a team of Stanford Law School students.
Those interviewed cited the destruction of their homes, agricultural lands, and businesses due to climate-related causes as contributing to their decisions to flee. Many lost their livelihoods, received little to no support from their governments, and faced increased dangers from organized crime, including cartels and gangs.
“They don’t care about the hurricane. They collect the payments just the same,” said one Mexican interviewee about gang members operating in her agricultural community. “They killed two of our neighbors who were also fieldworkers because they couldn’t pay the extortion fees. They cut one of their throats and hung the other from a wall.”
“This report makes the current reality of climate displacement visible,” said IRAP Climate Displacement Project Strategist Ama Francis. “For many people seeking protection at the U.S.-Mexico border, climate change is amplifying pre-existing dangers that ultimately force them to leave their homes in search of safety. Yet inhumane U.S. border policies are keeping many of those climate-displaced people from being able to access the protections they deserve.”
“Our research at the border shows climate change and climate-related disasters increase the influence of organized criminal groups and exacerbate other persecution that drives people to flee their homes,” said HUMSI Director Julia Neusner. “At the same time, rising temperatures are making movement across borders even more perilous. The United States and other countries must better protect people displaced in the context of climate change.”
The report includes recommendations for the U.S. government to address the issue of climate displacement, including:
- Adopting climate-specific protection and resettlement pathways;
- Exploring the use of U.S. Refugee Admissions Program priority designations to facilitate entry of climate-affected refugees;
- Normalizing climate considerations in Temporary Protected Status designations and extensions;
- Ending pushback policies and restoring asylum access at the U.S.-Mexico border; and
- Streamlining climate considerations into asylum intake procedures.
- Read the report: “Climate of Coercion: Environmental and Other Drivers of Cross-Border Displacement in Central America and Mexico”
- Learn more about the research process: HERE
- Read IRAP’s 2021 report: “U.S. Opportunities to Address Climate Displacement”