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Press Release // Immigration and Asylum

Biden Administration Releases Report on Climate Change and Migration

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LIRS Staff

October 21, 2021

Contact: Timothy Young | | 443-257-6310

Washington D.C. – The Biden administration today released a report on climate change and migration, as directed by President Biden in his February “Executive Order on Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration.”

The report includes discussion of the international security implications of climate-related migration, options for protection and resettlement of individuals displaced directly or indirectly from climate change, and proposals for U.S. foreign assistance to mitigate negative impacts. The report recommends the implementation of a standing interagency policy process to consider how climate change intersects with refugee status criteria, existing policy frameworks like Temporary Protected Status (TPS), improvements to data analytics, climate resiliency strategies, and “a new legal pathway for individualized humanitarian protection in the United States for individuals facing serious threats to their life because of climate change.”

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service previously published a report including similar recommendations to the administration for protection pathways for migrants impacted by climate disaster.

The following is a statement from Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the nation’s largest faith-based nonprofit dedicated exclusively to serving refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable immigrant communities:

“The Biden administration’s report is a major milestone, representing the first time the U.S. government has formally recognized the link between climate change and migration. It is an important acknowledgement of a troubling lack of a policy framework to protect those uprooted by the climate crisis. We are grateful that federal officials are taking proactive steps to align outdated public policy with the reality of this 21st century challenge and to expand access to refuge to those increasingly impacted by climate disaster.

As outlined in the report, we can invest in climate disaster mitigation and climate resilience strategies through U.S. foreign assistance programs to ensure regions are ready for sudden- and slow-onset climate disasters. We can build thoughtful legal pathways – expanding on U.S. immigration programs that provide relief, such as Temporary Protected Status or Humanitarian Parole – for those displaced by climate disaster to seek refuge in the United States.

The time for action to protect climate-displaced people is overdue, and the U.S. is uniquely positioned to lead the way. As one of the world’s largest carbon emitters, we have a moral responsibility to strengthen protection pathways for people who are losing their homes and livelihoods to the climate disaster.”

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