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Discussion points on heat stress and the border for climate and migrant justice advocates

Media inquiries contact: Ahmed Gaya,

National Partnership for New Americans, Climate Justice Collaborative

Key points

  • Closing the border to Asylum will exacerbate the humanitarian emergency. As a heat dome hits the border, more people seeking safety will be left in dangerous, life-threatening conditions. 
  • The US must provide solutions and leadership, not worsen problems. As the world’s second-largest polluter, the US must set a new standard and  1) reduce its displacement-driving environmental impact. AND 2) provide safe immigration pathways for displaced people facing climate stress, both within and beyond our borders.
  • Rising temperatures are the real border emergency. Money spent on cruel and costly border enforcement benefits only private security companies when it could be going to protecting Americans against climate risks and addressing the root causes of the problem. 
  • Voters want inclusive and compassionate immigration policies. While this executive order is clearly politically motivated, non-partisan polling shows that Democratic and Independent voters want inclusive immigration policies that address root causes and include a pathway to citizenship. 

Additional detail: 

  • Heat records are being broken across and beyond the US: Last year heat records were broken in Florida, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean. Texas saw record heat-related deaths. Record flooding affected Americans in Vermont, New York, and Kentucky. These impacts are especially felt in border states; heat is the real border crisis. Government must prioritize supporting people to manage the risks to their homes, livelihoods, and local economies. This year is set to be as bad or worse
  • Rising temperatures threaten already vulnerable lives: The heat dome hitting the US-Mexico border is just one example of how heat stress has a disproportionate impact on people seeking safety. Four migrant deaths were reported from heatstroke in El Paso this week alone. Such deaths doubled during last year’s heatwave. Blocking people from crossing will inevitably leave them exposed to potentially lethal conditions. US and Mexican authorities must instead work together to render lifesaving aid. Meanwhile the US government’s increasing reliance on open-air detention creates additional risks in the context of heat stress. 
  • Border enforcement is the wrong priority. The US bipartisan borders package earlier this year included $9.5 billion and 5,000 new vehicles for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an army of 7,500 police-type vehicles, plus boats, aircraft, and drones for the Department of Homeland Security, and $850 million for US Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) own fleet of vehicles. This is in addition to already-soaring budgets. Increasing enforcement makes crossings dangerous and pushes public resources into corporate profiteers, but does not reduce crossings.   
  • Real solutions to climate-linked displacement are needed. In May, victims of climate-linked displacement testified at the Americas’ top court. The White House’s own papers show climate-linked displacement is rising both in the US and in the Americas. Most climate-displaced people stay in their own countries, but some need international support. The US should protect people’s right to stay at home – through reducing emissions and supporting resilience – as well as people’s right to move safely. Measures like the Climate Displaced Persons Act would provide real solutions.
  • The American Electorate wants inclusive immigration solutions. Rather than punitive, enforcement-only immigration policies that, per the White House statement on the order, “deliver timely consequences” to people seeking safety and return them to harm, advocates and the electorate alike seek dignifying immigration solutions like pathways to citizenship and fair access to asylum. According to a new non-partisan poll conducted by the U.S. Immigration Policy Center (USIPC) at the University of California, San Diego, inclusive immigration policies that include a pathway to citizenship for immigrants significantly boosts approval for President Biden’s immigration policies among Democratic and Independent voters.

Statements on President Biden’s executive order by Climate and Environmental Organizations: 

 National Partnership for New Americans, Climate Justice Collaborative

Tuesday, June 4, 2024 – In response to President Biden’s executive order issued today restricting the number of immigrants at the US-Mexico border, NPNA’s Climate Justice Collaborative Director Ahmed Gaya issued the following statement: 

“It is deeply disappointing to see this executive order from a President who positions himself as a climate champion. Climate change and extreme weather is now a leading cause of global displacement, impacting many of the people now seeking refuge. The climate crisis demands the creation of compassionate, orderly and safe migration pathways for those who cannot stay in their homes, instead of dangerous and harmful theatrics about the border. Last November, ten of the nation’s largest environmental organizations sent a letter to congressional leaders arguing that the creation of new safe migration pathways for climate displaced people are an essential component of the United States’ climate agenda, alongside emissions reduction and a just transition to clean energy. President Biden and his administration should look to the example of the Climate Displaced Persons Act as one framework for the kind of climate solutions this moment requires. We urge climate and environmental leaders to join us in calling on President Biden to reverse course from this harmful, misguided order, and to instead address the root causes of forced migration and create the safe, orderly and dignified asylum system he promised in 2020.”

Union of Concerned Scientists
“News that the Biden admin intends to immediately limit the number of people allowed to claim asylum at the southern border is deeply concerning, especially with dangerous and life-threatening heat dome conditions in Mexico, moving to the southwest U.S. Addressing the root causes of migration in a just way—including the impacts of the rapidly worsening climate crisis—is crucial. That’s why UCS supports the Climate Displaced Persons Act as one framework for the kind of action needed to protect people.” 


CHISPA, League of Conservation Voters
Chispa and LCV Statement on Executive Order Limiting Asylum at the Border

For Immediate Release, June 4, 2024

Contact: Elena Gaona,, 202-907-9717

Washington, D.C.— In response to today’s executive order from President Biden on the border, Chispa and the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) released the following statement:

“Chispa along with Chispa Arizona, Chispa Texas, Chispa Maryland, Chispa Nevada, Protégete Colorado, and the League of Conservation Voters work with communities impacted by climate change and environmental injustice, partnering with the power of the people on issues of clean water, clean air, clean lands and fair representation. Many of our Latine communities have a deep and direct connection to immigrant communities in the U.S., and many of the community members we work with have been driven to migrate by climate change,” said Chispa Senior Director Estefany Carrasco-González. “Today’s executive action on the border does not live up to our American values of offering asylum to those fleeing persecution and violence, and hurts all of our communities. It cannot be the end or the fix to our immigration crisis, a layered and complicated issue that affects the most vulnerable around the world. We need thoughtful, humane and integrated approaches to immigration, just as we do with the climate crisis. We look forward to this administration and future administrations working with all of our communities to make this a reality.”


Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth Action Reacts to Biden Immigration Executive Order, Climate Impacts

June 4, 2024

WASHINGTON – Today, the Biden Administration announced an executive order that would block access to the U.S. asylum system at the US-Mexico border after a certain number of people seek asylum. 

Karen Orenstein, Climate & Energy Justice Program Director at Friends of the Earth Action, issued the following statement in response:

Today’s immigration-related executive order is unjust and inhumane. It is especially disturbing coming from President Biden, who knows the world is in the throes of a climate emergency that is driving people from their homes.

With the increasing severity of  climate events — such as devastating hurricanes, shifting weather patterns, and intensifying drought and desertification — communities around the world are facing greater threats of displacement. Migration and immigration are often forms of climate adaptation. 

Immigration policies should be grounded in the historical and environmental drivers of migration, including U.S. militarism and racist and extractivist foreign policy. Those seeking asylum should be treated with dignity and compassion and be afforded their full legal right to asylum. We call on President Biden to rescind this cruel, ineffective action that plays politics with people’s lives. 

Communications contact: Brittany Miller,, (202) 222-0746

Sunrise Movement

“Climate Presidents don’t close our doors to asylum seekers. Many of the asylum seekers this order turns away are facing extreme weather in their home countries caused by climate change. Young people see this cruel, Trump-lite policy for what it is.”



GreenLatinos Disheartened Over New Immigration Executive Order 

June 5, 2024, Cumbia Padilla

These new orders will hurt thousands of people who are fleeing war-torn and climate-disparaged communities in search of a better life.

WASHINGTON — Yesterday, President Joe Biden announced executive actions that make it more difficult for migrants to receive asylum when reaching our Southern Border. GreenLatinos condemns this decision and calls upon the administration to rethink its position when it comes to asylum seekers.

In response to this news about executive action on asylum requests, GreenLatinos Climate Justice & Clean Air Program Director Irene Burga and GreenLatinos Texas Community Advocate Ana Esmeralda Gonzalez released the following statements:

“President Biden’s executive order to shut down asylum requests at the U.S.-Mexico border is a devastating blow to our humanitarian values and climate justice. This policy disproportionately affects vulnerable Latino/a/e communities who are fleeing horrific living conditions, including violence, poverty, and climate change impacts. By turning our backs on those seeking refuge, we perpetuate a cycle of suffering and instability. We must advocate for comprehensive solutions that address the root causes of migration, such as environmental degradation and socio-economic inequalities, rather than implementing punitive measures that further harm those in desperate need.” – Irene Burga, GreenLatinos Climate Justice & Clean Air Program Director.

“President Biden’s recent executive order restricting asylum requests when the U.S- Mexico border is ‘overwhelmed’ fails to address the root causes of the current increase in asylum seekers. As the effects of climate change worsen and become a heavier burden on frontline Latine communities, the Biden Administration should promote policies that encourage solutions to the environmental degradation and social injustices that force this migration instead of inciting fear. Rejecting asylum seekers is not a solution; it is a harmful failure to acknowledge and address the interconnected crises of climate change, violence, and systemic inequities,” said Ana Esmeralda Gonzalez, GreenLatinos Texas Community Advocate.

“We stand in solidarity with those seeking refuge and will continue to advocate for humane solutions and stronger environmental protections that reflect our values of justice and equity and allow Latine communities to remain in their homes. We urge the administration to reconsider this policy and to champion approaches that uphold our commitment to environmental and social justice.”


Action Aid

June 4, 2024

ActionAid USA’s Director of Policy & Campaigns, Brandon Wu, said:

“The Biden administration’s Executive Order today closing the southern border to asylum seekers is deeply unjust. The decades-long history of harmful U.S. policies – including climate inaction, economic extraction, and support for repressive regimes – is a root cause of the migration that the administration is now trying to stop.

Rather than simply turning away asylum seekers, the U.S. has a moral and legal obligation to provide safe passage and basic rights for people who are trying to build better lives for themselves and their families, or simply trying to survive in the wake of violence, conflict or catastrophe. 

An administration committed to human rights and climate justice would welcome asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, while implementing policies to limit or stop the harms that are forcing these migrants to leave their homes in the first place. The climate crisis is increasingly a factor in forced displacement, and the U.S. doing its fair share of climate action – including cutting emissions, providing climate finance to build resilience for communities in developing countries, and welcoming climate-displaced people with open arms – would be a much more humane and effective response to migrants arriving at our southern border.”


Greenpeace USA

President Biden: restricting asylum at the border is a step backwards for climate justice

Justice for migrants is climate justice

WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (June 5, 2024)–Yesterday, President Biden issued an executive action restricting the number of asylum seekers at the United States-Mexico border. In response, Greenpeace USA’s Chief Program Officer, Tefere Gebre, said: “After experiencing the hottest year on record in 2023, 2024 must be the year our elected officials step up to tackle the climate crisis – an essential part of this is establishing safe, compassionate, and human rights-based migration systems for individuals displaced by extreme events. Instead, to satisfy his anti-immigrant critics, President Biden has taken a massive step backwards with this executive action. As a refugee myself, I implore the Biden administration to immediately change course. As the climate crisis accelerates, people worldwide will experience displacement at alarming rates. These are parents, children, and loved ones who deserve dignity and basic human rights.

“The United States is responsible for around 20 percent of all historic carbon emissions, and thus, bears a disproportionate responsibility to lead on just and equitable solutions to address this crisis. As another “heat dome” descends on the United States and Mexico, we need the Biden administration to look to legislation like the Climate Displaced Persons Act for direction on how it can support displaced communities, rather than turning its back on them.”


Oil Change International

In response to Biden’s executive order restricting the number of immigrants at the US-Mexico border, Allie Rosenbluth, Oil Change International US Program Manager, said:

“With deadly heat waves, and other disasters escalated by the climate crisis, President Biden’s decision to shut down the southern border to people seeking refuge is cruel, unnecessary, and not a solution to displacement. We must adopt policies that transition our energy system away from fossil fuels, as well as create compassionate, orderly, and safe migration pathways for those who are displaced. President Biden is failing on both counts. We urge President Biden to reverse this harmful order, honor his 2020 promise of a dignified asylum system, and address the root causes of displacement.”



President Biden’s New Border Policy Disastrous To Asylum Seekers & Climate Justice

“Climate Refugees is appalled at the Biden administration’s Executive Order this week that effectively denies people the right to seek asylum when an arbitrary threshold is met. Not only is this unjust, it is also illegal. At a time when global displacement is once again expected to reach record highs of over 130 million people, these cruel border policies are not only harmful, they are unhelpful.

Climate Refugees has just returned from Central America, where we spoke to migrants, returned migrants, farmers and Indigenous communities devastated by disasters and more than a decade of drought.”