In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and now Maria this season, there has been a great deal of interest in the human and economic impacts of hurricanes. In new research with my student Parag Mahajan, we study how hurricanes drive immigration to the U.S.
The short answer: hurricanes do lead to increases in immigration from affected countries, but only when there is a substantial presence of previous migrants in the U.S. from those countries. Networks of prior migrants help new migrants come to the U.S. in response to hurricanes. One prominent way in which prior migrants help is by applying for legal permanent residency (LPR status, or “green cards”) for relatives.
We write about these findings in a non-technical fashion in a piece in The Conversation.