USCRI releases joint report on climate-related displacement from field visit in Tijuana

By USCRI March 30, 2023

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) released a report in collaboration with International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and Human Security Initiative (HUMSI) on how climate change interacts with other root causes of displacement for migrants and asylum seekers who reach the United States’ southern border.

The report, titled “Climate of Coercion: Environmental and Other Drivers of Cross-Border Displacement in Central America and Mexico,” is based on dozens of interviews with Guatemalan, Honduran, Mexican, and Salvadoran individuals seeking asylum in the United States. Interviewees described how droughts, floods, and other weather patterns exacerbated by climate change amplified the persecution and vulnerabilities they experience in their countries of origin.

“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,” HUMSI Director and report co-author Julia Neusner said.

Droughts, heat, and storms often force crops to fail and businesses to close—but gangs and other criminal organizations continue to demand extortion payments that families could not meet, according to interviews conducted in Tijuana. In these increasingly vulnerable settings, violence and threats of violence have forced decisions to flee and seek protection in other countries.

The report includes recommendations for U.S. policy makers on addressing climate-related displacement from a human rights-informed perspective, such as creating new pathways for those displaced by climate change and using U.S. Refugee Admissions Program designations to reach refugee populations affected by climate-related disasters.

USCRI policy staff visited Tijuana in January to assist the field research outlined in this report. USCRI thanks its Communications Team and its Field Office in Tijuana for their support, as well as members of Refugee Council USA’s (RCUSA) Climate Displacement Working Group.

For the report, please click here.

This report is part of USCRI’s ongoing policy and advocacy work highlighting strengths and weaknesses in existing U.S. and international policy toward migration from climate-affected countries and possible policies or models to pursue in response.

USCRI, founded in 1911, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit international organization committed to working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and their transition to a dignified life.

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