There are many reasons why folks from Central America are trying to migrate to the U.S. Some are fleeing violence and/or persecution in their home country. But an overarching reason that thousands make the arduous and perilous trek from their homes is poverty.
“I want a better future for my kids. Like our parents wanted a better future for us. That’s why we’re forced to take steps and leave our own country and risk our lives here, because necessity forces us.”Honduras migrant Irmana Morado, as quoted in this ABC News story
And an underlying cause for that poverty is climate change. Check out this excerpt from a March 31st piece in The New Yorker, written by Bill McKibben:
To give an example: owing in part to climate change, there was a record hurricane season last year, with the last two storms, Eta and Iota, striking Central America. As Nicole Narea explained in a recent article in Vox, the Northern Triangle countries—Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—have been afflicted by climate-induced drought for a decade, leaving 3.5 million people facing food insecurity, but the floods from those two storms produced even more savage damage. Twelve hundred schools were damaged or destroyed; forty per cent of corn crops and sixty-five per cent of the bean harvest were lost. As a percentage of G.D.P., the damage is greater than that done by the worst storms ever to hit the United States, yet the people of these countries did comparatively little to cause the climate crisis—whereas the four per cent of us who live in this country have produced more greenhouse gases than the population of almost any other nation. So there’s really no way to pretend that migrants arriving at our southern border have no claim on America. Honduras could have built the biggest, most beautiful wall on its northern border, and our CO2 would still have sailed right across it.
Interesting, ain’t it? So if we want to help alleviate the border crisis, we should worry less about building walls, and focus more on reducing our oversized carbon footprint. The rising tide of border crossers is caused by the rising tide of the oceans. Illegal immigration is a symptom, not the disease. And the disease is spreading rapidly.
And it’s not as if this is an isolated case. As early as 2017, according to the organizers at climate-refugees.org, sixty per cent of displaced people around the world were on the move because of “natural” disasters, not civil conflict. In the past six months, according to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, about eighty per cent of displacements have been the result of disasters, “most of which are triggered by climate and weather extremes.” As Axios reported last week, using a projection model created by the Times, ProPublica, and the Pulitzer Center, “migration from Central America will rise every year regardless of climate change,” but, “in the most extreme warming scenarios, more than 30 million migrants would head toward the U.S. border over the next 30 years.”From the same March 31st Bill McKibben’s piece in The New Yorker cited above
VP Kamala Harris can say “do not come, do not come” all she wants. But let’s pretend the shoe is on the other foot for a second (ignoring the fact that shoes might be considered a luxury in the tiny villages of Central America). If your schools were destroyed, your food sources were wiped out and your livelihood was lost, you’d still come. No matter the cost, no matter the odds.
you only leave home when home won’t let you stayFrom the achingly beautiful poem “Home” by Warsan Shire… Hat tip to Rickey Dobbs of Hitting the Trifecta for bringing it to my attention in his great post about immigration during the Trump era.
“I want to emphasize that the goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home.”U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, at a joint press conference with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei
If we want to help our friends to the south find hope at home, we also have to change how we treat the planet. And that starts in our home.
Hey, hey, come on, I need you more than everfrom the song “Footsteps in the Shadows” by Alejandro Escovedo, from his brilliant album The Crossing.
Hey hey, come on, we’re running for our lives
Hey, hey, come on, there’s refuge in your heartbeat
They’re closing in
They’re closing in