Climate Change, a Major Driving Force in Guatemalan Immigration to the US

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In the past three years, there has been an increase in the number of Central American migrants arriving in the US. As is always mentioned, most of the immigrants are families, most of which come from Guatemala, while the remaining are from Honduras and El Salvador.

But what exactly sparked such an increase in immigration?

According to a 2015 survey, around 40% of the migrants left their lands due to attacks or threats. There have been ongoing cases of gang violence, murder rates, and political corruption in such countries that citizens are forced to leave their homes and apply for asylum in the US.

Jonathan Blitzer, who traveled to Guatemala, a country where most of the migrants hailed from, cited another major driving force in the form of climate change. According to Blitzer, most of the Guatemalan migrants are from the western highlands region, particularly in the Antigua and Mexican borders.

The people who live in the highlands are mostly indigenous, mostly relying on agriculture as their main source of living. However, malnutrition rate has reached around 65% percent in those areas, and a report from the Climate, Nature, and Communities of Guatemala indicated that the highlands region is highly vulnerable to climate change.

Guatelaman forestry expert Yarsinio Palacios stated that there can be several reasons that prompted people to migrate. It could be because a family member is sick, or might be because they’re trying to cope up with the recent changes. However, climate change always seems to be present in every situation.

In 2015, a pilot project was initiated by the Asociación de Cooperación para el Desarrollo Rural de Occidente in the Paraje León village to deal with climate change. For the first three years, residents of the village managed to survive without any problem. However, everything ended when Trump became the US president and halted the funding for the said project.

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