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Why are these children leaving home?
There are multiple causes including poverty and family unification, but the most urgent and pressing reason is crime. For example, the data has shown the following murder rate in 2012
Honduras – 90.4 per 100,000 people,
El Salvador 41.2 per 100,000 people
Guatemala 39.9 per 100,000 people
Compare that to Congo which resulted in 500,000 refugees with a murder rate of 28.3 per 100,000 people. High murder rates, causes people and families to flee.
Children and families fleeing the Northern Triangle Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador routine cite gang violence as the primary reason in their leaving their home country. Kids are routinely the target of violence. Recruitment for the gangs starts when they are young. They get beaten by gang members and forced to join. If they join they face beatings from the police who suspect them of gang membership. If they don’t join they or their families are targeted. The choices decrease when this conduct is rampant throughout the country.
Are they coming because of President Obama?
Sen. Ted Cruz, and others argue, that President Obama’s creation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and Senate passage of S.744 (comprehensive immigration reform) draws the immigrants like a magnet on the premise that they would be allowed to stay because of these programs. Like too much of Sen. Ted Cruz’s statements on immigration, his rhetoric isn’t supported by the data.
Reports by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), agency that houses the minors, shows the majority claim violence as the primary basis for their departure. That doesn’t mean that they don’t also cite poverty or family reunification just that their primary reason is to leave the violence. They are also seeking refuge in Mexico, Panama;, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Beliz.