Last year at this time, there was a surge of unaccompanied youngsters coming across the U.S. southern border from what has been termed the Northern Triangle, referring to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. These countries were and are known for their growing gang violence. Honduras has been the murder capital of the world for several years now. San Pedro Sula in the north holds that same title as a city.
An editorial writer for El Salvador's daily newspaper La Prensa Grafica (June 29, 2014) describes that journey as one fraught with dangers, the destination as one full of rejection, and the life of an immigrant without papers as one full of sorrow to the highest degree. "Why embark on such a journey?" the writer queries. The response seems to be, "Because there is the possibility of survival and the alternative is to face certain death at the hands of the gangs in their country." Once across the border, they can tell an immigration official that they have a credible fear of death if they return home. There is hope for asylum and most of all, reunification with a parent.
However, the Baltimore Sun paper recently reported that there is no longer a surge of minors crossing into the U.S. So, where are they? On a recent trip to El Salvador, my friend and I discovered that these children and adults are still heading north for the same reasons.
Due to an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, there is a concerted effort for Mexican officials to arrest them for deportation back to their home countries. There is such a receiving center for Salvadorans on the outskirts of the parish where we work. We saw the blue and white Pullman Chiapas buses that had arrived that morning, three a day, filled with children and adults. Several Honduran women later told me that sometimes they get five a day.
A young man outside the huge black metal gates told us of his experience. He left to find work in the U.S. He was not going to lie around on our streets or rob anyone. He just wanted to work so he could help his family. He said they were treated well in terms of being fed, allowed to shower, and given a ride back in the bus. Once they arrived, they all went inside the center to be processed, finger printed, etc. Adults were released to find their way back to their respective villages. The children, many of whom were on their way to be reunited with a parent, had to wait for the bonafide in country caregiver, an aunt or grandparent, to come for them.
What happened to the migrant's right for survival, to seek safety? What is the cost to U.S. tax payers for this agreement? What fate befalls the youngsters and adults once they return to the violence?
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