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Why so Many Refugees from Central America?

June 30, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

The initial decision by the United States President Donald Trump
and his administration to separate families involved in alleged
illegal border crossings generated enormous controversy and
backfired spectacularly from a public relations standpoint. Mostly
lost in all the uproar, though, is needed scrutiny about why there
is another spike in the number of refugees from Central America
seeking haven in the United States. As with most mass migrations,
there is no single cause. Like previous generations of immigrants,
some see this country as an ideal land of opportunity and wish to
seize it. Also, others are not merely hoping to find better job
prospects but are trying to avoid outright destitution in their
home countries. Furthermore, other families are fleeing a horrid
level of gang violence that has engulfed some Central American
societies.

Developments are making the last factor increasingly salient.
The level of internal strife in areas of Honduras, Guatemala, and
El Salvador has made those countries some of the most chaotic and
violent outside of full-fledged war zones. President Trump has even
labeled the MS-13 gang, based in El Salvador, a threat to communities throughout the United
States. But MS-13 is only one of many street gangs and drug cartels
plaguing Central America’s so-called northern triangle.

The extent of the carnage is extraordinary. Four of the countries with the highest annual
murder rates in the world are located in Central America. Guatemala
ranks ninth, with 31.25 murders per 100,000 people. Belize ranks
sixth with 34.4, while Honduras comes in second with a rate of
63.75. But those countries seem almost peaceful compared to El
Salvador, which has the highest homicide rate in the world, 108. 64
per 100,000. Moreover, the nation with the fifth highest rate,
Venezuela with 57.15 homicides per 100,000, is adjacent to the
region.

To put such rates into perspective, consider that the
Philippines, afflicted with a simmering local insurgency in the
south, ranks fortieth with a rate of 9.84. Even
Nigeria—despite the threat that the extremist Boko Haram
continues to pose—comes in forty-first, with 9.79. Finally,
Zimbabwe with its economic chaos has 6.74 murders per 100,000 and
comes in sixty-ninth. The United States claims eighty-first place
with 4.88 murders per 100,000 population. The Central American
countries are essentially in a league of their own, except for
places like Syria and Yemen which are experiencing full-blown civil
wars.

America has an emerging
humanitarian and security crisis in its own neighborhood that must
be addressed immediately.

Not surprisingly, sensible people might want to get their families out of such lethal environments.
According to the United …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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