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Unaccompanied Children Migrating to the US from Central America in Record Numbers

minors.jpgOver the past few years there has been an unprecedented influx of Central American children crossing the US-Mexico border and coming into the United States unaccompanied by an adult. Immigration attorney all over the country are being inundated with calls requesting counsel for children who have made it into the US but have done so either alone or with other underage individuals. The problem of children crossing the border illegally and without adult accompaniment has grown significantly as of late but political concern is not just for the children once they arrive in the country but has just as much to do with the long and extremely dangerous journey that they take from their Central American homeland through Mexico in order to get to the US-Mexico border.

At the root of that concern is the need to determine what exactly it is that is causing these children to leave their native countries and traverse the thousands of miles of unforgiving Mexican landscape that separate them from the United States. Migrants of all ages point to what are being called “push factors” as their motive for leaving home.

Two of the most prominent of these push factors are the extreme poverty and gang-related violence that are rampant in places like Honduras and Guatemala. Economists and immigration officials in the United States say that this recent influx of migrants shouldn’t come as any surprise considering the environments from which they are coming. Honduras’s second largest city, for example, San Pedro Sulas, has been tagged over the last several years as the “murder capital of the world” which is just one of many reasons natives there are willing to risk the trek across the Mexican desert for the chance at a better life in the US.

According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, there were 90 murders for every 100,000 people living in Honduras in 2012 which equates to the world’s highest homicide rate. By comparison, there were only 5 murders for every 100,000 citizens in the US during the same year. Economists see income growth as being a major contributing factor in the rising number of migrants leaving their home countries. While it would seem that higher average incomes would keep people from leaving, the truth is that the higher income levels are seen by people in these countries as a means to finance a faster more comfortable trip across Mexico and into the US.

As rampant as poverty is in these Central American nations, people will often do whatever they feel is necessary in order to get to America. One woman in Honduras, for example, paid a human smuggler $7,000 to get her and her young daughter through Mexico and into the United States. That amount is nearly three time Honduras’s average yearly income per-capita.

There is some hope that the influx of migrants may slow down in the months and years to come. Mexico and Honduras have experienced significant GDP growth in recent years which experts believe will cause people to want to stay in their native countries once the effects reach more of the population. Nevertheless, the problem of children migrating without adult accompaniment is on the rise and it is a problem for which there seem to be few solutions.

If you or someone you know needs legal counsel regarding this or another immigration issue, please contact the Austin immigration attorney at Lyttle Law Firm by visiting their website or calling their offices at 512-215-5225.