The 2017 hurricane season left a steep toll on Mexico, the Carribbean, and parts of the southern United States. Hurricanes Harvy, Irma, Katia, and Maria have decimated many communities in these areas, some of which will rebuild quickly. Others, such as the less populated, less affluent communities, and less accessible areas will likely take many years to recover.
In these latter communities, many residents will choose to immigrate to the United States. Recent research shows that in certain circumstances, natural disasters like hurricanes are positively correlated with immigration. To find this, researchers from the University of Michigan evaluated the hurricanes and other natural disasters that have occurred over the past few decades and compared this with the United States’ census data from 1980 to 2004. They found that in the years following large, destructive storms, there were bumps in immigration from the affected countries. But this was only one piece of the puzzle. Immigration to the United States from specific countries increased in the years following destructive storms in those countries particularly when there were already communities of immigrants from those countries in the United States. Storms can drive immigration, but the presence of a community waiting for new migrants fuels it.
A Hurricane Can Devastate a Poor Area for Years
Rebuilding after a hurricane can take years and a substantial amount of money and other resources. In cities like Houston and Miami, this is far less of a concern than it is in poorer communities outside the United States. When a local economy is destroyed by a natural disaster, many turn to migrant work and send money back to their families in their countries of origin.
Coming to the U.S. is Easier when Family is Already Here
The researchers found that immigration in multiple categories increased in the years that followed severe hurricanes. This included an increase in the number of green cards issued as well as more individuals entering the country with tourist and work visas. Specifically, many of the people who entered the United States in the years following severe storms and other disasters were related to individuals already in this country, like cousins, children, siblings, and spouses. Individuals who are already in the United States can sponsor their loved ones looking to come here and provide other types of support, like sending money and other resources back to the affected communities. Once new immigrants are here, their existing networks can help them secure housing and jobs in order to start a new life in the United States.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Help Individuals and Families Work Through Legal Issues with Immigration
Immigration law can be complicated. Difficulty understanding immigration laws and legal processes can be compounded by a language barrier, which can make it easy to make mistakes and potentially sabotage one’s naturalization process. To work with an experienced Philadelphia immigration lawyer who can help you navigate these difficulties, call 215-925-4435 to schedule a consultation with Surin & Griffin, P.C. or contact us online.
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