Letter: Migrant caravan and climate change

Posted
Editor of the Reformer,

Many of us have watched the news in horror, as federal agents demonize immigrants and asylum seekers who look to the United States as a place of hope and refuge. In what is often referred to as the "Migrant Caravan," somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 Central Americans have been walking toward the southern U.S. border since October. Several hundred have now reached the border and were met with rubber bullets and tear gas. There is bitter irony in this, as U.S. policies have contributed to, or even caused, the untenable conditions these people seek to escape. Experts say that alongside factors like violence, crime, and corruption, climate change is a catalyst for other major problems including crop failures and poverty.

Both globally, and here in Vermont, people who depend on small farms have become painfully aware of changes to weather patterns that can ruin crops and decimate incomes. Everyone is affected by climate change, and things like natural disasters and food insecurity are a huge part of why people are fleeing their homes. The World Bank estimates that warming temperatures and extreme weather will force an estimated 3.9 million climate migrants to flee Central America over the next 30 years, with an estimated 150 million to 300 million climate refugees set to be displaced worldwide by 2050.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless as we watch events unfold, far from the southern border. Thankfully people throughout our country are taking action and trying to make a difference, no matter how small. Here in southern Vermont, the Community Asylum Seekers (CASP) are working to sponsor asylum seekers and welcome them into our community. In addition to monetary support, they have an ongoing need for volunteers. Contact the Community Asylum Seekers Project at www.caspvt.org or info@caspvt.org for more information. Other groups, like 350 Vermont, work for climate justice by resisting fossil fuels and building momentum for alternatives in our own communities. To find out more information and contribute to their efforts, visit https://350vermont.org.

Now is the time not only to connect the dots, but also to turn thoughts into action, to take steps to mitigate climate change, to speak out against borders, and to create compassionate communities worthy of the name.

Lissa Schneckenburger, Abby Mnookin, Robin MacArthur, and Corey DiMario

Brattleboro and Marlboro, Dec. 1

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