The climate crisis is getting worse across the globe. As many communities in Florida can attest, climate change harms air and water quality, causes a greater number of hazardous heat days and wildfires, and results in more frequent and more damaging flooding due to rising sea levels.
However, one major consequence of the climate crisis is too often overlooked: human migration. Millions of people leave their homes every year because of extreme climate and weather stressors, such as hurricanes, excessive rainfall, or droughts. Climate change does not recognize any borders, and its impacts usually cause the most harm to communities with the least access to resources and power. Climate migration displaces millions of people from their countries of origin, forcing them to migrate in search of a safer home for their children and families.
In 2017 Hurricane Maria came to the shores of Puerto Rico. After the storm, it was estimated that more than 50,000 climate refugees came to the continental United States in search of safer homes. It has been four years since the violent storm and still, the island has not yet recovered for many climate refugees to return home.
All people, regardless of their United States citizen status, deserve to search out safe and stable homes for themselves and their families. People migrate under different circumstances, and all too often, the drastic forces of climate change cause widespread harm and displacement of communities.
In the final days of the 2022 Florida Legislative Session, the Republican-dominated legislature passed SB1808 Immigration Enforcement, which targets vulnerable children to fuel their false immigrant threat narrative, criminalizing immigration for political gain.
We need legislation that treats immigrants with the dignity and compassion that all people deserve. We need inclusive and humane policies that provide shelter and stability for climate refugees. Families deserve to feel safe and to stay together. That’s why we urge Governor DeSantis to veto this harmful legislation.
White House, 2021: Report on the Impact of Climate Migration
New York Times, 2020: The Great Climate Migration