Thursday, December 30, 2021
Immigration Article of the Day: We Broke It, We Own It: How To Meet The Climate Migration Future by Elizabeth Keyes
Check out this essay by immprof Liz Keyes (Baltimore) over at Alchemist: We Broke It, We Own It: How To Meet The Climate Migration Future.
Liz starts by acknowledging the problem of climate migration, which is: "already forcing people to seek new places to live." It is a problem that is going to impact a great many people -- as many as 143 million within coming decades according to one source she cites. As a result, "climate migration will be of a scale where governments have no choice but to act."
Liz then transitions to American history for an example of how to deal with climate migration. And it's one that hits close to home for this Okie -- the migration of Dust Bowl refugees from Oklahoma to California in the early 1930s. California resisted this migration, taking active steps to thwart it. But, ultimately, the migrants successfully integrated into the state.
Liz highlights the important role of the 1941 U.S. Supreme Court's decision of Edwards v. California, in which the court held that states could not prevent migration from other states. Even given the unique circumstances of the Dust Bowl migration, which had "staggering" costs (fiscal and social), those costs could not justify “attempts on the part of any single State to isolate itself from difficulties common to all of them."
That Supreme Court holding, Liz notes, has been incredibly important to protect internal migrants fleeing from climate-related events like Hurricane Katrina, California's wildfires, and Hurricane Maria.
She argues the reasoning of Edwards could also be brought to bear on the larger, international problem of climate migration.
It's a wonderful piece, and I won't ruin it by trying to summarize it moment for moment. I urge you to read the entirety.