Yale Climate Connections: What are the main drivers of undocumented migration across the U.S.-Mexico border?
Jason De León: The primary reasons that people attempt undocumented migrations include poverty, political instability, violence of different forms, famine, a devaluation of currency, and, increasingly, climate change.
You’ve got people who are fleeing places like western Mexico because of droughts. They’re fleeing places like Honduras because of the intensity and frequency of hurricanes that are just devastating these places. And so you have all of these migrants who are suddenly having to flee their home countries because of the impacts of global warming. They’re headed towards a country like the United States, which is largely responsible, or one of the key players, in creating this global warming problem. And then they are trying to cross through the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, where they are facing even more risk as these places get hotter because of climate change. And so these folks are being affected by climate change at multiple points in their journey.
The relationship between climate change and migration is for me, one of the most understudied and misunderstood parts of our global migration crisis. I think people have tended to want to separate those two things. And if you look at just Central America in the last couple of years, it is very, very clear that as climate change starts to devastate these very poor countries, people are going to start to be leaving in higher and higher numbers. And so we are now living in a moment with climate refugees. And the United States is going to have to deal with this moving into the future. And this is not a problem that you can solve with the border wall. This is not a problem that you can solve even with guest worker programs. This is a global crisis around climate change that we need to address in many, many different, large-scale ways to better handle this problem. [Continue reading…]