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Why Are Migrants From Central America Coming To The U.S.?

Central American migrants going to a shelter on the outskirts of Zapotlanejo, Jalisco state, Mexico in November 2018.
Central American migrants going to a shelter on the outskirts of Zapotlanejo, Jalisco state, Mexico in November 2018.

Immigration reporter Dara Lind has identified a new motif in President Donald Trump’s speeches. It is called “Immigrants Are Coming Over The Border To Kill You,” or, abbreviated, “IACATBTKY.”

Here’s what she wrote, after the president addressed the nation on Tuesday night.

The Trump administration was already playing fast and loose with the facts when it made the case in advance of the president’s speech that the current situation on the US-Mexico border was such a crisis that it merited a partial government shutdown to resolve. Trump himself, though, didn’t even try. His central argument is that there is a crisis of immigrants coming across the border to kill you — the exact same argument he has been making, and the exact same supposed crisis, for three and a half years.

As has been stated many times: Immigrants are no more likely to commit crimes than people who were born in this country. And in some cases, immigrants are asking to come to the United States because they are fleeing the very same types of violence the president is talking about.

From Sofía Martínez,in The Atlantic:

Today’s migrant flow is very different. Yes, there are still male heads of household seeking to pursue the “American Dream” in the U.S. so as to send home a couple of hundred dollars each month to their families. But the crux of the recent crisis at the border is that there are fewer male migrants in their 20s or 30s making the crossing, and many more families, newborns, children, and pregnant women escaping life-or-death situations as much as poverty.

For some families, it is too late to keep their kids away [from gangs]. In El Salvador, where there are around 65,000 thousand active gang members with a social support base of half a million people, boys from 12 years up are prime targets for recruitment. Girls can also be targeted at an early age, either to be sexually abused or to become gang members. The eventual fate of a girl—whether she is left alone, harassed into joining the gang, or forced into becoming a sex slave—depends entirely on the local leaders, or palabreros, who run the local cells or clicas (cliques) of the two largest gangs, MS-13 and Barrio 18.

We’re diving into the reasons why migrants are coming to the U.S from Central America.


Brian Winter, Editor-in-chief, Americas Quarterly; vice president, the Americas Society/Council of the Americas; @BrazilBrian

Greg Grandin, Professor of history, New York University; author, “The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall”; @GregGrandin

Elizabeth Oglesby, Professor, Latin American studies, University of Arizona

Franco Ordoñez, White House correspondent, McClatchy Washington bureau; @FrancoOrdonez

For more, visit https://the1a.org.

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