What’s Really Driving Immigrants North From Central America

Feb 22, 2019

When thousands of Central Americans moved en masse toward the border between Mexico and the U.S. in 2018, violence and poverty were named as the culprits behind the immigrants’ journey. But according to Edwin Castellanos, another factor could be just as much to blame. 

Castellanos, a climate scientist and Dean of Research at Universidad del Valle in Guatemala, says decreased rainfall and rising temperatures over the past few decades have knocked out the livelihoods of Central American subsistence farmers. Climate models he works on show that unless humans curb their reliance on fossil fuels, the problems are likely to worsen, forcing more farming families to make the desperate choice to head north.

Host Frank Statio talks with Edwin Castellanos about the effects of climate change on immigration and how farmers and officials in Central America are thinking about the problem. Castellanos delivers a lecture at the FedEx Global Education Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Friday, Feb 22 at 6 p.m.