Despite stricter measures being implemented by the United States, families from Central American countries continue to attempt to cross the U.S southern border to escape violence, poverty, drug cartels, gangs and corruption.
The perennial turmoil in the Northern Triangle of Latin America – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras pushes people to make the dangerous trek north to the U.S. Southern border.
Horrific images of family separations did not deter migrants from fleeing their countries.
Piedad De Jesús Mejía, a 31-year-old mother from Honduras, had travelled to Reynosa, Mexico, with her four children. She said that she heard about the family separations but “I had to leave without caring about that.”
Jennifer Figueroa left Honduras with her 3-year-old son, waiting and hoping at Matamoras, Mexico for a chance to legally cross the border into the United States to seek asylum.
She said, “She had left her country because of death threats from the 18th Street gang and paid a smuggler about $125 to get to the U.S.”.
Allison Parker, Director of the Human Rights Watch’s U.S. Program expects the conditions to worsen:
“Based on our interviews with individuals in immigration detention and at the border about the conditions they are fleeing … the conditions haven’t changed, which is why we are seeing these large numbers of people arriving.”
A staggering total of 252,187 border patrol apprehensions on the southern border have been recorded this fiscal year, according to Customs and Border Patrol statistics. An estimated increase of 230,000 in apprehensions over the first eight months of 2017 is really alarming.
Despite the efforts of Trump administration to work with the Northern Triangle countries, the problems remain because they are deeply rooted. People continue to flee because they want to survive. Only a systemic change in this region could put an end to escalating illegal immigration.
Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center believes the solution to the migration problem is so deeply rooted that relying on deterrence programs simply will not work:
“The region’s problems are so deep and so endemic they cannot be fixed in a couple years. Unfortunately, the focus is instead on deterrence on the border. The focus needs to be on how to improve conditions in the countries so people don’t leave in the first place.”