Marina E. Franco (Noticias Telemundo for Axios)

Climate Change, Violence Changing Migration Patterns In The Americas

Climate change, violence, political instability, and economic strife across Latin America and the Caribbean are forcing millions of people to migrate. These factors are not only causing more people to come to the United States, but also leading to more migration within Latin America and beyond the cities that have long drawn migrants. In this article, we will explore how these factors are contributing to changes in migration patterns in the Americas.

Effects of Climate Change and Natural Disasters

One of the major drivers of migration in the Americas is climate change. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes and floods, have become more frequent and severe due to the effects of climate change. This has forced many people in countries like Guatemala, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras to leave their homes in search of safety.

The effects of climate change are not limited to natural disasters. Droughts and other climate-related phenomena have made it difficult for people in rural areas to make a living, leading them to migrate to cities or other countries in search of better opportunities.

Violence and Political Instability

In addition to climate change, violence and political instability are also driving migration in the Americas. Countries like Ecuador, which have long drawn migrants from nearby countries, are now seeing people leave due to rising gang violence in major cities like Guayaquil. Similarly, political crackdowns in countries like Nicaragua and Venezuela are leading people to seek refuge in other countries.

Economic Strife

Economic strife, aggravated by the pandemic and worsening inflation, is also contributing to rising migration in countries like Colombia, which had record emigration last year. Many people are leaving their homes in search of better job opportunities and economic stability.

Lack of Policies to Help New Immigrants

Another major issue prompting increased movements across the Americas is a lack of policies to help new immigrants adapt culturally and be allowed to contribute to the country’s economy. According to Diego Chaves-González, senior manager of the Latin America and Caribbean Initiative at the Migration Policy Institute, most measures addressing migration in the region focus strictly on regulating migration instead of on policies to help people who have already migrated.

For example, many Nicaraguans are trying to get to the U.S. as the political crackdown at home has worsened in the past two years. In the past, many had moved to Costa Rica, but getting legal status there has become much harder amid reports of anti-immigrant sentiment. Similarly, many Venezuelans who in the past fled political instability and food and medicine shortages to other South American nations have started to trek north since the pandemic.

Regional and Coordinated Solutions

Last June, 21 governments in the Americas, including the United States, signed the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration, promising to develop regional and coordinated solutions to regulate the flow of people. Representatives from the signatory nations met again in Washington, D.C., last September to begin forming joint plans of action.

But to truly make a difference, any future proposals need to get appropriate funding and political buy-in, as well as include programs that help build resilience against threats posed by climate change and cooperation against criminal groups, Chaves-González said.

Conclusion

Climate change, violence, political instability, and economic strife are all contributing to changes in migration patterns in the Americas. Natural disasters and climate-related phenomena are forcing people to leave their homes in search of safety, while violence, political instability, and economic strife are leading people to seek better opportunities elsewhere. Without appropriate policies and solutions, this trend is likely to continue.