Currently, people around the world are being forced from their homes by the man-made monster known as climate change. The Status of Climate Change Litigation, a UN report, estimates that anywhere from 25 million to 1 billion people will be displaced by 2050 due to Climate Change. The World Bank estimates that 148 million people will be displaced from Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America alone by 2050 due to climate change. At first glance, one may wonder why they should care if they do not currently reside in an area that will be severely affected by climate change. But you should. Displaced people will have to relocate somewhere, and this will have a large impact wherever they decide to relocate to.
This is becoming a more pressing problem in the United States. The U.S. has entered into the Compact of Free Association with three small island nationals in the Pacific Ocean to allow their citizens to enter and leave the United States without a visa and provide financial assistance. In return for the ability to come and go, the U.S. may access the physical land and water surrounding the island as well as provide defense for the islands. These compact islands are the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federal State of Micronesia and Palau.
According to 2018 census estimates, there are currently more than 38,000 compact migrants currently residing in American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Hawaii, and Guam. Even though this number may seem small when it is compared to the total U.S. population of 327.2 million, the compact migrant population has a significant impact on the rest of the country. Congress now faces the challenge of funding for the growing number of migrants due to climate change.
A total of 4,325 migrants from the Marshall Islands now reside in Springdale, Arkansas.This creates 2 major problems. First, the city of Springdale is does not mimic the terrain of the Marshall Islands, so it is difficult for people to transition. Second, Arkansas must accommodate these displaced peoples. The state officials of Arkansas claimed that they have spent “around $51 million in costs for education, health and public safety services to compact migrants for 2004 to 2010.”
Under the compact, the U.S. must allocate $30 million per year to areas highly affected by migration from the compact nations: Hawaii, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa. The $30M impact funding expires in 2023, which means that Congress will have to renegotiate the financial aspects of the compacts with each island nation. But in the meantime, some residents will have make up their mind on whether to migrate or remain in their home country. We can expect more compacts with the growing number of people being displaced by climate change. This mass exodus has large effects on the countries that take in the migrants, and governments needs to be ready to support these people.