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Home » Climate change is a major factor behind increased migration at U.S. southern border, experts say

Climate change is a major factor behind increased migration at U.S. southern border, experts say

Climate change is a major factor behind increased migration at U.S. southern border, experts say

Hurricanes Eta and Iota struck Central America last November, bringing torrential rain, flash floods, landslides and crop damage across Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

An estimated 7.3 million people in the region were affected by the twin hurricanes as of December, according to the United Nations.

The impact of the hurricanes is one of many reasons migrants from Central America are making the dangerous journey to the U.S. southern border to seek refuge — and just one example of climate-exacerbated drivers of displacement and migration.

“Climate change is reinforcing underlying vulnerabilities and grievances that may have existed for decades, but which are now leading to people having no other choice but to move,” Andrew Harper, special advisor on climate action for the UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, said in an interview.

President Joe Biden and his administration have faced pressure from across the political spectrum to stem the flow of migration at the U.S. southern border.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol reported encountering more than 172,000 people attempting to cross the southern border in March, a 71% increase compared with the previous month and a 34% increase from the same time frame in 2019. The vast majority of people arrive at the border are being expelled due to public health ordinance Title 42, although seeking asylum in the U.S. is a legal right.

CBP cited “violence, natural disasters, food insecurity, and poverty” in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador for the rising numbers of encounters at the border.

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