Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court upheld Trump’s cruel travel ban on several mostly-Muslim countries. In a 5-4 vote, SCOTUS conservatives essentially endorsed Trump’s racist “immigration control.” This decision will have implications for years to come, suggesting that anti-immigrant and xenophobic policy can be justified. In a scathing dissent opinion, Justice Sotomayor said the decision was no better than Korematsu v. United States, the 1944 decision that endorsed the detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
This decision comes on the heels of weeks of chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border as Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol enacted Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “zero tolerance” policy, which gave ICE the unprecedented authority to detain all people crossing the border, criminally prosecute all adults, and separate parents from their children
Last week, Trump signed an executive order to end family separation which he described as “compassion”, but this isn’t what you think. Children will still be jailed – only this time, with their families. And just yesterday, news came out that the US would temporarily “scale back” its zero tolerance policy – not because of the human rights implications, but because there’s not enough space in detention centers.
We at 350.org are outraged by these horrendous violations of basic human rights and stand in solidarity with all immigrants and refugees seeking safety and better lives.
We believe that it is critical that the climate movement step up for immigrant and refugee communities, and here are three reasons why:
1. Migration is a climate change issue.
According to a recent report by UNHCR, there are 65.6 million displaced people in the world today, fleeing due to persecution, violence, human rights violations, and environmental disasters — all amplified by the climate crisis. Since 2008, an average of 26.4 million people have been displaced from their homes by extreme weather disasters every year. Simply put, climate change directly and indirectly causes migration , and people migrate to flee the impacts of climate change on their homelands.
Steadily worsening climate-related disasters such as droughts, floods, famines, and rising sea levels are some of the many reasons people leave their homes in search of better livelihoods. From African migrants choosing to cross by boat from North Africa to Europe to Pacific Islanders losing their homes due to rising sea levels and Central American migrants fleeing their home countries in search of refuge – people around the world are being driven from their homes by droughts, storms, and the political strife and conflict that follow these climate disasters. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be 200 million people displaced by climate change-related impacts.
Fighting climate change is about much more than emissions and scientific metrics – it’s about fighting for a just and sustainable world that works for all of us. Detention and deportation only increase the suffering of people displaced by climate impacts.
We cannot claim to fight for climate justice if we turn away from climate refugees once the storms are over and the droughts have ended. Building the just world we need means we must fight for policies that ensure people displaced by the impacts of the climate crisis are welcomed and protected in their new communities.
(Kate Aronoff’s piece in In These Times, “Why Abolishing ICE Is Good Climate Policy,” is a great read to contextualize the Central American migrant crisis and its deep ties to climate change.)
2. We cannot address climate change in isolation from other movements and social justice issues.
Our work to stop the climate crisis does not exist in a vacuum. A successful climate movement must work in conjunction with other movements for justice – including the immigrant rights movement, the Movement for Black Lives, the movement for gender justice, the LGTBQIA movement, and much more.
As climate change continues to impact the lives of those at the frontlines, including poor people, Indigenous peoples, people of color, women, migrants, and more, we will see escalations in poverty, violence, and state crackdowns that will impact the most vulnerable. This is why we at 350 often call on our supporters to attend rallies and days of action related to social justice causes that are not purely about climate change — because the fight for a just world has many fronts that all connect to one another.
3. Building a just and equitable world takes all of us.
Our work to build a Fossil Free world that is just and equitable for all is ultimately about protecting communities: keeping families safe together, demanding communities’ rights to safe drinking water and clean air, and building sustainable economies that transition away from fossil fuels and towards 100% renewables.
That work also means supporting peoples’ right to migrate. For too long billionaires and neglectful governments have not prioritized the root causes of climate change – and as climate impacts continue to get stronger, we know that we must work together to create the world we want.
Join us in creating a stronger movement that combats all the injustices of the system responsible for the climate crisis.
Here’s a list of important rallies you should attend in your city or state.