tags: Press Releases

ICYMI: As Climate Change Intensifies Migration Pressures, Biden Administration Must Use TPS to Provide Stability

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Humanitarian emergency on the southern border underscores urgency for TPS designations for countries in crisis

CNN’s Rachel Ramirez highlights the impact of climate destabilization on the border crisis, as environmental disasters, economic and political instability, and civil unrest drive many from their homes in hopes of survival. Haiti’s recent presidential assassination, 7.2 magnitude earthquake that killed thousands, and subsequent hurricanes have driven more than 40,000 Haitians to flee their homes in order to save their lives and their families. With the effects of climate change intensifying exponentially, the pressures to migrate for survival will intensify with inaction.

The current situation on the US/Mexico border highlights the need for the Biden Administration to provide humanitarian aid to Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. These countries – and their people –  are vulnerable to environmental disasters driven by climate change, abject poverty, food and water insecurity, and sociopolitical violence, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. Updating the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) “continuous presence” eligibility date for Haiti and granting TPS designations in the Northern Triangle is necessary as a humanitarian solution that will stabilize the region so that fewer migrants are forced to flee. Natural disasters and instability have rendered the region dangerous and unsafe for return, and the Biden Administration should expand TPS protections now because TPS was created for this exact situation. 

The CNN article on how climate change is intensifying migration pressures is excerpted below and available online here

In the face of political turmoil following the assassination of the country’s president, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 1,000 people and a tropical storm, Haitians are fleeing their country. More than 10,000 migrants from Haiti converged on the US border at Del Rio, Texas, this week and up to 30,000 may also be seeking to travel north. Their experiences are similar to those of migrants from Central and South America, where political and economic instability and climate change are threatening their livelihoods.

… “Haiti is one particular important case, but it is connected to a wider story of the dispossession of Black people, especially in the Caribbean,” Keston K. Perry, a political economist and assistant professor of Africana studies at Williams College, told CNN. “Making the connection between existing inequalities that are linked to colonialism and enslavement of African peoples is important for us to understand how these communities have become particularly vulnerable and exposed to climate change.”

“Making a decision to leave their own country has to be the very last resort,” Perry said. “They are unable to meet the resources, recovery and relief needs on a yearly basis, when they experience calamities like landslides, flooding and hurricanes that we’re seeing happening more frequently — and so we’re going to be seeing more forms of migration.”

Perry said developed nations like the US should expect to see more migrants and refugees attempting to escape intensifying disasters.

“These crises reveal what has been going on beneath the surface in terms of structural inequities,” Perry said. “At the end of the day, given what is happening in Haiti and in other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, we are going to see future events of this kind, especially as the planet warms.