DHS says climate change will lead to more illegal border crossings

Thomas Catenacci, DCNF

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said extreme weather caused by climate change will lead to more illegal entries into the U.S. across the southern border.

Severe earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, tropical storms and other weather events caused by climate change will lead to “border mass migrations” that could put additional stress on U.S. border patrol, the DHS warned in its Climate Action Plan released Thursday. Climate change has “deep implications” for the security of U.S. borders, the agency said.

“More severe droughts and tropical storms, especially in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, could increase population movements, both legal and illegal, across the U.S. border,” the DHS said in the report.

“Increases in human migration may require more resources and operational capacity at the U.S. border to facilitate the application of immigration law, including the law governing claims for humanitarian protection,” the report continued.

The DHS plan added that melting sea ice in the Arctic would lead to more smuggling and trafficking.

“We are already experiencing the adverse impacts, from sea-level rise, extreme heat, flooding, and drought, to changes in migration patterns and harmful effects on workforce health,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wrote in the report’s introduction. “These impacts are likely to become more severe in the decades to come. Our Department must harness our capabilities and resources to address the impacts of climate change to keep our communities safe.”

As part of the plan, Mayorkas said the agency would develop a “climate change action group” comprised of senior DHS officials tasked with handling climate issues related to the U.S. homeland.

On Thursday, more than 20 federal agencies released similar climate adaptation plans, which laid out how they would individually take steps to prepare for climate change. The initiative represented a “whole-of-government” approach to preparing for climate change, the White House said.

The Department of Defense said in its plan that climate change poses a national security threat and has already caused setbacks for U.S. military readiness. The Department of Education noted how many students have been impacted by wildfires.

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