Jul 02 2014

Adding a Political and Historical Context to the Rise in Children Migrating from Central America

US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Central American heads of state this week to address the crisis of undocumented children migrating to the US. The number of immigrant children entering the US, hailing primarily from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, is estimated to reach 90,000 this year, and 150,000 next year. In 2011 6000 children were recorded as having entered the US without papers.

A bus carrying 140 undocumented immigrants, including mothers and children, attempted to arrive in the Southern California city of Murrieta yesterday but were turned back by over a 100 angry protesters chanting “USA, USA.” The majority of undocumented children are being held in facilities in Texas.

President Obama has requested $2 billion in emergency funding to “fast-track” the processing of the children and deport them back to their homelands. The White House is hoping to override the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Act passed under President Bush.

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees published a report earlier this year that found at least 58% of children may quality as refugees. In fact some members of Congress including Republican Senator John McCain have urged the creation of refugee application programs in the Central American countries.

There have been many attempts to explain the sharp increase in children at the border, including a rise in organized crime in their home countries, the on-going drug war, and impoverishment. But some US officials have simply urged parents not to send their children on a perilous journey.

GUEST: Suyapa Portillo, Assistant Professor of Chicano/a-Latino/a Transnational Studies at Pitzer College

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