Climate changes are driving women and girls to flee from Central Americans to the United States amid risks of sexual violence during the harrowing journey, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken proclaimed Monday.
Nevertheless, President Joe Biden, who has made similar claims, did not invite the Central American nations mentioned by Blinken — El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, together known as the Northern Triangle region — to the White House climate summit this week. The climate summit will include leaders from 40 countries, Blinken noted.
The risks facing Central American migrant women and girls— including sexual attacks, sexual trafficking, and forced prostitution — are worsened by Biden’s pro-migration policies, including his acceptance of children, teenagers, and families across the border, Republicans say.
Nevertheless, while delivering a speech Monday from the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, Blinken claimed the “climate crisis” is to blame for fueling the surge of Northern Triangle migrants at America’s southern border.
The Northern Triangle has become a significant source of unaccompanied children, families, and other migrants heading to the U.S.-Mexico border.
There were 13 Atlantic hurricanes in 2020 – the highest number on record. Central America was hit especially hard. Storms destroyed the homes and livelihoods of 6.8 million people in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and wiped out hundreds of thousands of acres of crops, leading to a massive rise in hunger. Months after the storms, entire villages are still subsumed in mud, and people are carving off pieces of their buried homes to sell as scrap metal.
When disasters strike people who are already living in poverty and insecurity, it can often be the final straw, pushing them to abandon their communities in search of a better place to live. For many Central Americans, that means trying to make it to the United States – even when we say repeatedly that the border is closed, and even though the journey comes with tremendous hardships, especially for women and girls who face heightened risk of sexual violence.
Striking an alarmist tone which scientists have begun to criticize openly, Blinken warned inaction is not an option.
“If America fails to lead the world on the climate crisis, we won’t have much of a world left,” he warned, later adding, “The climate crisis we face is profound. The consequences of not meeting it would be cataclysmic.”
“The costs – in monetary damage, livelihoods, human lives – keep going up. And unless we turn this around, it’s going to get worse,” Blinken said.
Overwhelmed by the flow of migrants, Biden administration officials are reportedly releasing migrants into U.S. communities, sometimes without coronavirus tests or Notices to Appear before an immigration judge.