Bill Clinton On Climate Refugees: ‘America Needs To Become Pro-Immigration Again’

ThinkProgress Green is reporting live from the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.

In a roundtable discussion with a diverse group of bloggers, former President Bill Clinton addressed many facets of the challenges caused by global warming pollution, and also what he believed are the opportunities for building a global green economy. Clinton spoke passionately about the challenge of climate refugees, who are growing in number as floods, storms and droughts grow more intense and frequent:

You have to assume because of climate change there will be a lot more refugees. The laws which exist are built for a different time, when you’d have a surge from a particular country because of a particular disaster or event. That’s almost certainly not going to work now. The countries who take the most refugees should try to reach an agreement on broadbased strategies.

In addition to policy changes that reflect our changing world, Clinton said that the culture of how people in developed countries perceive immigrants and refugees needs to change.


“America needs to become more pro-immigration again. I think it helps our economy. In the refugee category the United States and other countries need to create opportunities for housing and jobs, even if it increases the likelihood they want to stay.” Clinton rejected the idea that it makes sense to have policies that prevent integration of people who can’t quickly return to their homeland. “Keeping people in long-term limbo is a waste of human potential.”