Does Global Warming Cause Illegal Immigration?

There is a crisis at the Southern border, with hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants crushing the capacities of our immigration system. Why is this happening now? Obviously, because the Biden administration sent signals to Central America that, after four years of the Trump administration, Washington again welcomes and encourages illegals to flood across the border.

Of course, that is not the story that the administration wants to tell. Thus, Kamala Harris asserts that climate change is the cause of the migrant disaster:

Vice President Kamala Harris used a meeting Thursday to argue climate change is a root cause of migration from Central American countries.

“We are looking at extensive storm damage because of extreme climate, we’re looking at drought,” Harris said.

Harris met with foundation leaders on the ongoing migrant crisis as people from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala flood the Southern border through Mexico.

Because of the changing climate, Harris argued, people in the region faced a struggling agriculture industry, food scarcity, food insecurity, and extreme poverty.

Ah yes, climate change! Is there anything it can’t do? Too much rain, drought, take your pick. Whatever ails Honduras, it must be our fault and that of the developed world generally.

Of course, the idea that the climate suddenly changed on January 20, 2021, so as to unleash the current crisis, is ridiculous. But is there any evidence to support Harris’s claim that, more broadly, the cause of the current misery in Central America is “climate change,” however that might be defined?

No, there isn’t. Contrary to wholly unsupported claims by leftists, extreme weather events have not increased in recent years. If anything, they have moderated. To be sure, hurricanes have damaged Honduras’s economy, but not recently:

Farmers also have to contend with tropical storms. In 1998 Hurricane Mitch destroyed over two-thirds of staple food crops and 80 per cent of export crops. The damage was so great that, then President Carlos Roberto Flores said the storm had set back 50 years of progress in the country. Another storm, in October 2008, caused severe flooding, wiping out 18,000 hectares of food crops.

But there is no correlation between these events and illegal immigration.

Is it true, as Harris said, that “a struggling agriculture industry, food scarcity [and] food insecurity” are responsible for the current border crisis? While Honduras is indisputably a poor country, there is no recent agricultural decline that would account for the Biden administration’s border crisis. This report is from March 2020:

Agricultural exports from Honduras to the United States continue to increase, with tropical fruits playing a large role.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) specialist, Ana Gomez, told Hondudiario, a Honduran news agency, that agricultural exports have increased in recent years from $600 million to $900 million and noted that Honduras exports more agricultural products to the U.S. than the U.S. exports to Honduras.

According to data published by The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), in 2017 Honduras exported $9 billion worth of goods with the U.S. importing $4.86 billion worth of that. In 2017 bananas were their top exported fruit with a value of $293 million followed by melons at $191 million, among other commodities.

The U.S. was the main importer of both of these commodities, taking in $256 million in bananas (88%) and $128 million in melons (67%).

There is no sign of either sudden or medium-term agricultural decline, due to global warming or anything else, that could account for Hondurans’ desire to move to the United States.

Actually, of course, there is no mystery as to why Central Americans or residents of most other places want to come here, notwithstanding our alleged “white supremacist” society. (It is noteworthy how few illegal immigrants credit such nonsense. In that regard, they are much smarter than, say, New York Times reporters and editors.) Median income in Honduras was reported to be around $4,000 per year earlier this month. That contrasts with the $30,000 per person in poverty, per year, that my state, Minnesota, spends on means-tested welfare programs. That would be $90,000 for a mother and two children. Sure, most of that goes to health care providers, social workers and so on. Poverty programs do not exist primarily to benefit the poor. But still, it is easy to see why, if you live in Honduras, you view America as the Promised Land. I only wish that Democrats had the same perspective.

In short, Kamala Harris’s claim that “climate change” is the root cause of illegal immigration from Honduras and other Central American countries is ridiculous. The crisis at the border is the responsibility of the Biden administration. Period.