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ICYMI: New Report Highlights How Climate Change Will Drive Displacement and Increase Urgency for TPS in Northern Triangle

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International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) report underscores urgency for designating TPS for Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador

Rebecca Morin in USA Today is lifting up a new report from the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) outlining the actions the Biden Administration can take now to address climate change-driven displacement, including designating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. 

Nine months after hurricanes Eta and Iota devastated the Northern Triangle region, it’s clearer than ever that granting TPS is desperately needed as a humanitarian solution that will stabilize the region. Climate disasters will continue to impact and further destabilize countries that are already grappling with widespread poverty, violence, and food insecurity, all compounded by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. 

The Biden Administration should act urgently to designate or redesignate TPS to protect immigrants and their families already here contributing to the economy and serving on the frontlines as essential workers. Natural disasters and instability have rendered the region dangerous and unsafe for return, and the Biden Administration should use TPS now because it was created for this exact situation. The IRAP report highlights the urgency for TPS in the Northern Triangle: the time is now for the Biden Administration to act to address climate change displacement and stabilize the region. 

The USA Today article is excerpted below and available online here.


A cross section of refugee and climate organizations say President Joe Biden can help address refugees driven from their homelands by climate change-related factors by using a number of actions at his disposal. 

…“Climate displacement is a huge global challenge,” said Ama Francis, climate displacement project strategist at IRAP. “There are concrete things that the U.S. government can do and there are existing laws that the U.S. can build upon to make sure that all climate displaced people have a safe place to live.”

…The IRAP report calls on the Justice Department to issue an opinion that clarifies that climate change serves as grounds for refugee status under U.S. law. In addition, the report calls on the Biden administration to issue policy guidance for immigration officers and judges on assessing climate-related claims.

The Biden administration should also adopt  temporary protected status (TPS) for countries whose citizens are seeing the effects of climate change, such as Guatemala, the report said. The United States awards TPS to people from eligible countries who are facing political conflict or natural disasters and allows people from those eligible countries to live and work in the U.S.

…The majority of migrants coming to the United States are from countries like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Central America late last year was ravaged by back-to-back hurricanes, followed by a drought. Migrants have left home because of climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, gang violence, economic hardships and political instability.

…“It’s really important that we’re training asylum officers and immigration judges to understand how climate is showing up in interaction with other elements of an asylum claim so that we’re not leaving anyone behind,” Francis said.

Francis said people from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua are being displaced because of climate change. Francis added that people from Caribbean islands are also vulnerable to being displaced a climate disaster because “it’s easy for a single environmental event to completely overwhelm the capacity of the government to respond to the disaster.”