Every day, organizations worldwide are engaged in a collective two steps forward, one step back march toward improved immigration services and policies. What hard-earned lessons are these nonprofits, and the foundations that support them, learning from their persistent efforts? This collection of evaluations, case studies, and lessons learned exposes and explores the nuances of effective collaboration, the value of coordinated messaging, the bedrock of ongoing advocacy efforts, and the vital importance of long-term and flexible funding.

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The Statue of Liberty Plan: A Progressive Vision for Migration in the Age of Climate Change

August 24, 2022

This report discusses the links between climate change and migration, and proposes a new plan—the Statue of Liberty Plan—for the US to reject nativism and instead embrace a new narrative and policies that would make the US the most welcoming country on earth for migrants and refugees. Adoption of the plan would counter authoritarian appeals, advance national economic and cultural renewal, and strengthen and protect multiracial democracy.

Farmworkers and the Climate Crisis: Farmworker Justice’s Environmental Justice Symposium Summary Report

July 14, 2022

This report summarizes the content shared by experts during its Environmental Justice Symposium, held May 17th and 18th, 2022, as well as promising practices and policy recommendations to address the impacts of the climate crisis on farmworkers. The virtual Symposium brought together subject matter experts and participants representing health, legal, academic, environmental, and other organizations to discuss how the climate crisis is affecting farmworker communities and to develop actionable recommendations and best practices for health centers, farmworker-serving organizations, and state and federal agencies. Recordings of the Environmental Justice Symposium presentations are available on Farmworker Justice's website

Migrant Workers

The Climate Crisis and Its Impacts on Farmworkers

May 5, 2022

This Issue brief was prepared for Farmworker Justice's Environmental Justice Symposium (May 17 & 18th, 2022) addressing the impacts of the climate crisis on farmworkers in the areas of heat stress, pesticide exposure, food security, and water access.

Migrant Workers

Climate Migration: The State of Play on National, International, and Local Response Frameworks

March 25, 2022

According to government data, 2021 was a year of climate disasters: The U.S. experienced 20 separate billion-dollar disasters, putting the year in second behind 2020, which had a record 22 separate billion-dollar events. The number and cost of weather and climate disasters are increasing across the world, with a dire climate report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Monday, February 28, warning that climate change, and climate disasters, will "redistribute populations on a planetary scale."Despite the increased attention being paid to the phenomenon of climate migration, substantive recommendations and solutions to this growing occurrence are few and far between at the local, national, and international levels. The lack of a dedicated international mechanism for climate migrants as well as local and national solutions has forced many to seek protections under existing international legal mechanisms, such as refugee and asylum laws, which were not designed for this new type of migration. Many of the international initiatives addressing migration more generally are non-binding, meaning that they provide a framework for signatory countries to follow, but do not compel those signatory countries to take specific actions, leaving an international patchwork of responses to a growing global phenomenon.

On the Frontlines of the Climate Emergency: Where Immigrants Meet Climate Change

December 8, 2021

Extreme heat waves, droughts, fires, hurricanes, and floods surging in the United States and across the globe are wake-up calls to the reality of a climate-altered world. While climate change affects everyone, the damage is compounded for countries and communities that are made vulnerable by restrictive immigration policies, patriarchal beliefs and systems, structural racism, and by economic stress and exploitation.This report seeks to inspire justice-oriented funders to invest at the nexus of the climate and immigrant justice movements, with a particular eye to the unique vulnerabilities and contributions of immigrants. Philanthropic investment at this pivotal juncture would help build a healthy and collaborative ecosystem across movements and is both a moral and strategic priority. This can enable forward planning of legal pathways for people who lose their homes; protections and opportunities for workers and communities who are striving to build resilience; and the power to win and implement urgent, equitable, and effective responses to climate challenges. 

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Public Preferences for Admitting Migrants Displaced by Climate Change

August 18, 2021

Climate change will displace millions of people around the world over the coming decades. While many of these climate-displaced persons will migrate internally, many will be displaced across international borders. This study is one of the first to ask whether the American public views climate-displaced persons as meriting admission to the United States through a humanitarian admissions stream. Our research indicates that Americans believe that displacement by climate change makes a prospective migrant as deserving of humanitarian immigration relief as those migrants fleeing persecution—the criterion for asylum or refugee status currently recognized in our refugee and asylum laws. Given that no such form of relief currently exists for climate-displaced persons under U.S. refugee and asylum laws, our research identifies a gap between public preferences and existing law.Our findings reveal that the American public ranks environmental displacement explicitly due to climate change as equally deserving of refugee status or asylum as persecution due to political opinion, persecution due to national origin, and persecution due to membership in a social group—three of the five currently recognized bases for asylum or refugee status in the United States. We investigate the factors that may influence how members of the American public perceive climate-displaced persons, including individuals' opinions on and experience with climate change. Even among those skeptical of climate change, displacement due to climate change is considered as deserving of asylum in the United States as is persecution when compared to economic migrants. Not only do Americans favor providing asylum to those displaced by climate change at the same levels as the currently accepted criteria, but climate skeptics also do not differ in statistically significant ways.When asked to assign a ranking to the reasons a person might seek asylum in the United States, respondents ranked climate-related displacement on par with persecution based on nationality, political opinion, and membership in a social group. Only persecution based on race and religion rank higher on average than displacement due to climate change. A member of the U.S. public is more likely to perceive an individual fleeing the negative effects of climate change as deserving asylum in the United States than an individual seeking economic opportunity. These findings suggest that barriers to including climate change-displaced migrants in U.S. humanitarian admissions streams may be lower than previously thought—a finding with live policy implications as the Biden administration considers how it will manage the migration effects of a warming planet.

Limiting the National Right to Exclude

February 21, 2018

This essay argues that the robust right to exclude that nation states currently enjoy will be harder to justify in an era of climate change. Similar to landowners, nation states have virtual monopolies over portions of the earth. However, the right of landowners to control who enters their land is considerably more constrained than the right of nation states to control who enters their territory. Climate change will alter the areas of the earth suitable for human habitation and the broad right of nation states to exclude will be more difficult to justify in this new environment.