Three Years on From Biden’s Climate Migration Executive Order, It’s Time for Action

Statement from Refugees International’s senior advocate and program manager of the climate displacement program Jocelyn Perry:

“This week marks three years since President Biden released his executive order on refugee resettlement and climate migration, acknowledging the need for solutions as the impacts of the climate crisis increasingly contribute to global displacement. The executive order led to the White House Report on the Impact of Climate Change on Migration. And although some progress has been made on the report’s recommendations, the U.S. government is falling far short of the actions necessary to protect communities and save lives. Refugees International urges the U.S. government to follow through on the pledges made in its report.

First, Congress must allocate the $3 billion for international climate adaptation pledged by the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE) annually by 2024. This will support the vast majority of people who wish to stay in their homes, communities, and countries of origin.

Second, many refugees are forced to live in areas exposed to extreme climate hazards, yet face severe restrictions on their freedom of movement. These groups should receive P-2 designation for resettlement to avoid further displacement and risks to their lives, as detailed in a letter we sent with civil society partners to the administration. As the letter suggests, the Safe Mobility Offices (SMOs) present an important opportunity to provide pathways, including through the U.S. refugee admissions program or parole, to those displaced due to climate disaster in the Western Hemisphere who are in urgent need of relocation.

Finally, policy must catch up with the reality that more people are on the move, both within countries and across borders. Global migration governance must adapt accordingly to prepare for worsening effects of climate change in our future. The administration would do well to bear this in mind amid its budget negotiations with the Senate: A migration bill that pursues deterrence as its primary policy and threatens to close the border entirely to those fleeing violence, persecution, and climate disasters will not provide any more than a veneer of security and stability to those within our borders or beyond them.

To truly address the reality of climate migration, the United States must support those who wish to stay at home through adaptation, protect those in transit, and facilitate safe pathways to new homes for those forced to move. Three years on from its executive order, the Biden administration must seize the initiative and lead by example.”

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Featured Image: Local villagers seen on the dried river bed on January 12, November 2015 in Satkhira, Bangladesh. Photo by Zakir Hossain Chowdhury / Barcroft Media via Getty Images.