Among the trendy rationales for the surge in migration from Central America is – you guessed it — climate change.
The New Yorker jumped on the bandwagon most recently, declaring that farmers in the region “are abandoning their lands” in the heat of global warming.
While deforestation and environmental degradation are real in some areas, actual crop data throw cold water on the claim that Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans are heading north because of the climate. Spreadsheets from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization indicate that major crop production has risen in all three countries since 2000.
“If climate change were truly adversely affecting farmers, one would expect that crop production would be down. It’s not,” observes Matthew Sussis of the Center for Immigration Studies.
Without getting too deep in the furrows (see Sussis’s detailed report here) it seems fair to conclude that robust farm gains are not driving people out of these largely agrarian countries.
Sussis, who previously knocked down the notion that gang violence is fueling the exodus, says Central American migrants are being pulled, not pushed, northward.
“A much better explanation for the migration surge is our own asylum loopholes such as the Flores Settlement that encourage Latin American families to make the dangerous trek to our southern border where they can then make bogus asylum claims and be allowed entry into the country with minimal chance of removal,” Sussis said.
Instead of blaming Mother Nature or gangs or institutional corruption in the Golden Triangle, U.S. politicians ought to look hard into the mirror and see what their inaction has wrought. Congress’s failure to fully fund the wall, allocate essential border-protection resources and pass enforceable immigration laws leaves the door wide open for migrants. Chaos on the border – which is both a humanitarian crisis and a national security concern — reflects Washington’s dysfunction more than anything going on in Tegucigalpa.
“Central American migrants are, by and large, not coming to America because of life-threatening climate catastrophes. They’re showing up because they know we’ll let them stay,” Sussis said.