Last week, Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro (D) led 19 members of Congress in a letter to the White House which commended the President for his early actions to address the climate change crisis and called on him to respond to environmental migration during the 2021 Summit on Climate.
Praising Biden’s decision to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and the slew of early executive orders as a “necessary and an important first step to tackle this crisis,” the congress members demanded further action on climate induced migration. They argue that establishing international standards and a legal definition of “climate refugees” would help combat the shortcomings of international refugee law.
“Currently, the world does not have an agreed upon definition of ‘climate refugees.’ As a result, climate displaced persons are often stuck in legal limbo because they are not protected under international refugee law,” the Members wrote. “This needs to change, and we believe the 2021 Climate Summit is the perfect occasion to work with world leaders to create international standards and legal pathways to address climate migration.”
The letter was also signed by Norma Torres (CA), Ilhan Omar (MN), Nydia Velázquez (NY), Gregory Meeks (NY), Albio Sires (NJ), Karen Bass (CA), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ), Veronica Escobar (TX), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Alan Lowenthal (NY), Andy Levin (MI), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA), Tony Cárdenas (CA), Grace Napolitano (TX), Sara Jacobs (CA), Dina Titus (GA), Mark Pocan (WI), James P. McGovern (MA), and Juan Vargas (CA).