Secretary Julián Castro addresses “Climate Refugees” in his People & Planet First Plan

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José Alonso Muñoz | | (202) 810-0746

In his plan, Secretary Julián Castro calls to “defend” and “expand” our commitment to refugee programs.

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of CNN’s climate crisis town hall, 2020 Presidential candidate, Secretary Julián Castro released his People & Planet First plan, where he calls for the creation of a “Climate Refugees” category. In his plan, Castro sites a World Bank estimate that there may be as many as 200 million climate-change-driven migrants by 2050. This proposal will deliver proactive agreements with countries in the Pacific and Caribbean to support “investments in resilience and resettling displaced families.”

Castro’s climate plan release, calling for a proactive approach to protect people that are forced to migrate due to the climate crisis, comes after Hurricane Dorian ravaged homes, leaving 5 dead in the Bahamas. It also comes as the Trump administration defends its decision to take money from FEMA to give to ICE to fund more deportations and the caging of more people concentration camps. Leaders from United We Dream Action and Sunrise Movement issued the following statements: 

Adrian Reyna, Strategy Director of United We Dream Action, said: 

“In his People & Planet First plan, Secretary Castro outlines a possible solution to a crisis that requires worldwide leadership: mass migrations from regions most affected by the climate crisis are an imminent reality. The growing climate crisis, will require bold, proactive measures to ensure people around the world are protected as they are forced to leave their home countries. Castro’s plan seeks to expand and defend refugee programs, a clear contrast from the current administration’s plan to cage refugees, and endlessly grow the deportation force.”  

Varshini Prakash, Co-founder of Sunrise Movement, said:

“Right now, both our immigration policy and our climate policy in this country are out of step with our values as Americans. The next president has a moral duty to right these wrongs. This will require pulling out all the stops to fight climate change and rebuild the values that have made America a place where people fleeing crises can seek sanctuary and opportunity, not be greeted with more terror and violence. I’m glad to see Secretary Castro putting forward a plan to take this mandate seriously and hope all candidates join him in doing so.”

United We Dream Action and Sunrise, along with other progressive organizations released the Free To Move, and Free To Stay platform to shape the future of immigration policy, which calls on the next president inspire us with a vision and policies that ensure immigrants and refugees are welcome in this country and have the opportunity to thrive.


United We Dream Action is the leading national network fighting for dignity and justice led by immigrant youth and allies. We are a dynamic community of thousands of immigrant youth nationwide who build independent political power for those directly impacted by injustice. We organize and take action to win victories so that all people can be safe and thrive.