As climate change begins to cause increasingly more natural disasters, more people than ever are being displaced from their homes. The alarming rate at which people are being environmentally-displaced is leading to both internal and international immigration. Environmentally-displaced people that are forced to leave their home country are either met with inclusive or exclusive immigration policies upon arrival. Elites in host countries display their predispositions toward environmentally-displaced people by framing them as either immigrants or refugees. Those viewed by elites as a burden to the state receive a refugee frame while those viewed by elites as independent of the state receive an immigrant frame. This study assesses how these different frames result in immigration policy for environmentally-displaced people by a comparative case study of India and Australia. Results from my research show that environmentally-displaced people who receive an immigrant frame are met with inclusive immigration policies, but refugee framing’s effect on immigration policies of host countries remains inconclusive. Further research must be conducted in order to find clearer examples of elites applying a refugee frame to environmentally-displaced people. The findings suggest that the language used by elites in the aftermath of a regional environmental disaster can influence the direction of immigration policy. As migration flows set off by environmental disasters increase as a result of climate change, a firm understanding of how elites respond to displaced people is essential to human rights and international security.


Corral, Alvaro


Political Science

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2020 Marco Peticca