Immigrant communities are on the frontlines of nearly every aspect of the climate crisis as it reshapes our economy, politics, and lives. In the United States, immigrant communities are among those hit first and worst by climate impacts and extreme weather. Too often our communities are left behind or left out of disaster recovery, adaptation efforts, and excluded from the emerging green economy. Globally, climate change is already one of the largest root causes of migration, with three times more people displaced by weather-related disasters than conflict in 2020.
As climate change accelerates, so too does the global trend towards authoritarianism. When immigrants are discussed in the context of climate change, it is most often as the threat of billions of climate migrants arriving in the Global North. When climate-displaced people are painted as a bigger threat than climate change, nativist political movements can propel and popularize authoritarian solutions to the climate crisis, like increased border militarization or dismantling the right to seek asylum.
Immigrant rights organizations must join the movement to win major action to slow climate change and mitigate its impacts. Our response to the climate crisis can instead strengthen multiracial democracy and increase prosperity for all. We can organize in response to the increasing impacts of climate change with a vision for climate action rooted in abundance, compassion, and pluralism.
That’s why in 2022 we launched the Climate Justice Collaborative – to build the capacity of the immigrant justice movement to join the fight for climate justice and to defend the rights of people displaced by the climate crisis. We can fight to ensure that climate policy is inclusive of immigrants, that immigrant and other frontline communities are protected from the worst impacts of climate change, and that the U.S. is a global leader on preparing for and welcoming migrants displaced by climate change.