Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Guatemala on Monday on a mission to curb immigration from Central America to the U.S. At the same time, there’s at least one group of migrants the Biden administration is exploring ways to help come to America’s shores: those driven from their homes by climate change.

That’s in part because today’s laws, regulations and even international agreements don’t offer any special protection to migrants fleeing drought fueled by climate change. But while the problem is urgent, solving it won’t be easy, argue Katharine M. Donato, Amanda Carrico and Jonathan M. Gilligan, experts in climate policy and migration. They explain the challenges climate migrants face and why “climate migrant” is so hard to define.

Also today:

Stacy Morford

Environment and Climate Editor

Migrants hoping to reach the distant U.S. border walk along a highway in Guatemala in January 2021. AP Photo/Sandra Sebastian

As more climate migrants cross borders seeking refuge, laws will need to adapt

Katharine M. Donato, Georgetown University; Amanda Carrico, University of Colorado Boulder; Jonathan M. Gilligan, Vanderbilt University

Climate migrants don’t fit neatly into the legal definitions of refugee or migrant, and that can leave them in limbo. The Biden administration is debating how to identify and help them.

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