Sec. Mayorkas Falsely Blames Climate Change for Mass Illegal Immigration

Image: Alejandro Mayorkas, from Department of Homeland Security website.

Embattled Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas, currently facing impeachment proceedings in the U.S. House of Representatives for his inept handling of illegal immigration, recently took to the airwaves on MSNBC to lay problem of rampant mass illegal immigration at the U.S.’s southern border first and foremost on climate change. This is false. There is no evidence climate change has resulted in forced mass emigration from South or Central America or Mexico into the United States, and leaders there specifically mock such a claim.

Several media outlets covered Mayorkas’ appearance on MSNBC, such as the Daily Mail, Mediaite, the Washington Examiner, and The Texan.

In a January 3 appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show, Willie Geist, co-anchor of the show, asked Majorkas, “[a]s you know, Mr. Secretary, border patrol in the month of December processed more migrants entering the United States illegally than any month in the history of that agency. Why is that happening? How do you explain it?”

Mayorkas answer was disturbing in its cluelessness.

“So, we are seeing the greatest number of displaced people, not only at our southern border, not only in the western hemisphere, but across the globe,” Mayorkas began. “I am involved in bilateral and multi-lateral meetings with my counterparts from foreign countries in Europe, in Asia, in the Indo-Pacific — all over the world.”

“And migration, the challenge of displaced people, is a subject that comes up in every single conversation,” continued Mayorkas. “We have the effects of climate change, poverty, increasing level of authoritarianism.”

Mayorkas is half right. Undoubtedly, poverty and authoritarianism are playing a role in mass migration. He might also have added drug and human trafficking carried out by organized crime, inadequate enforcement by the Biden administration of current laws barring unauthorized immigration, and, in various countries, war and civil strife.

Where Mayorkas was dead wrong was in blaming climate change, which he listed first among the factors driving mass illegal immigration.

As Climate Realism has shown in hundreds of articles, data refutes claims that extreme weather is occurring more frequently or that when it strikes it is more severe. And crop production, including in most poverty riven and war-torn countries, including the countries where the majority of illegal immigrants coming to the United States are from, is continuing to set records regularly, year over year.

Indeed, Climate Realism has thoroughly rebutted and debunked the false claims that climate change is causing mass immigration into the United States and around the globe repeatedly, here, here, and here, for example. The latter post points out that Biden administration climate envoy, John Kerry and Vice-President Kamala Harris had both previously linked climate change to illegal immigration to the United States. In an interview on Fox News, Guatemala’s President, Alejandro Giammattei, chastised the administration for this claim, saying that he and the Biden administration “are not on the same side of the coin,” on why illegal immigration had increased during Biden’s presidency. Giammattei blamed the uptick in illegal immigration on the Biden administration’s more welcoming policies, not climate change.

Gaimmattei is not alone in chastising the Biden administration for trying to blame illegal immigration on climate change. As reported by The Texan, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott responded to Mayorkas’ claim in a post on X.

“Climate change? Mayorkas is pathetic,” wrote Abbott. “The REAL reason illegal immigration records are being set is because Biden refuses to enforce immigration laws.”

Whatever other missteps Mayorkas has made in his handling of the U.S. border crisis that have led to his pending impeachment hearings, certainly his foolish parroting of the Biden administration’s false party line that climate change is behind the increase in illegal migrants isn’t going to help him in the during the proceedings. With no trends in worsening weather or food production, climate change can’t be causing mass illegal immigration. Of course, the Biden administration has shown time and again that on climate change and energy issues, facts don’t matter. All that matters is whether a policy or statement advances the claim that climate change presents a “clear and present danger,” which the administration is taking an all of government approach to fighting. Under Biden, that Homeland Security fight climate change is evidently more important than securing the U.S. border and preventing foreign terrorists from entering the country or carrying out attacks.

H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News. In addition to directing The Heartland Institute's Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy, Burett puts Environment & Climate News together, is the editor of Heartland's Climate Change Weekly email, and the host of the Environment & Climate News Podcast.

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  1. Mayorkas would say anything to take the attention of his his total incompetence in handling the border! He’s thinking the climate is so much better in the USA 🇺🇸! That’s probably true in many ways from where they came from but not the climate related to weather! The fact is that the weather changes often but the climate is different and the steady decline or increase in temperatures and other factors just doesn’t make sense! If that was the reason these migrants are heading north then they are really not going to like it here as we have four seasons in a lot of places and they have a fairly mild climate from where they live! Face it this is desperation on display for blaming climate change for mass migration! Close the borders and the migrants will eventually dwindle down to a mere fraction of what we have now.


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