Climate refugees? Biden executive order wants study on resettling those 'displaced' by climate change

Biden orders review of Trump policies on illegal immigration

FOX News national correspondent William La Jeunesse has the latest from San Diego on ‘Special Report’

President Biden’s recent executive order on refugees includes a direction for a study on the impacts of climate change on migration, as well as options for the “protection and resettlement of individuals” displaced by environmental change.

The order for the study comes in a Feb. 4 order on “Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration.”

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The study will be led by the national security adviser, in consultation with the secretaries of State, Defense and Homeland Security — along with USAID and the director of national intelligence — and will be on “climate change and its impact on migration, including forced migration, internal displacement, and planned relocation.”

The order says the report will include “discussion of the international security implications of climate-related migration” as well as “options for protection and resettlement of individuals displaced directly or indirectly from climate change.”

The request for the report comes as part of the effort by Biden to increase the number of refugees taken in by the U.S. each year. Former President Donald Trump lowered the cap to 15,000, and Biden is moving to increase that to 125,000 for the next fiscal year.

The order also requests “mechanisms for identifying such individuals, including through referrals” and “proposals for how these findings should affect use of United States foreign assistance to mitigate the negative impact of climate change” as well as how the U.S. can work with international groups and NGOs.

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While it isn’t clear what the report would conclude, or what the Biden administration would do as a result of the report, activists and some Democrats have long been calling for the U.S. to help “climate migrants.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., included in his Democratic presidential platform a policy to “welcome migrants displaced by climate change” and push to accept a minimum of 50,000 “climate migrants” in his first year in office.

Any such move is likely to be strongly opposed by Republicans, who have expressed concern about any broader definition of refugees. 

More than two dozen Republicans, in a letter first obtained by Fox News, wrote to the administration expressing concern about the vetting of refugees — and included concern about the report.

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“We remind you that so-called ‘climate refugees’ are not included in the definition of ‘refugee’ at Section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, a definition which is consistent with U.S. obligations under relevant international instruments,” the letter says.

“The Biden administration must not seek to expand this definition through administrative action, nor should it participate in the attempts by certain activist groups to expand the traditional and legal understanding of ‘refugee,’” the letter also says.

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