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Why Do People Migrate? Part 1: Facts

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In 2014 there has been a pick in the number of children trying to cross the US-Mexico border. This has provoked heated debates on the relevance on a human rights framework when looking at migrations from South to North America.
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Children on the move

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Child migration from Central America (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico) to the US seems to represent an enduring issue, as 2015 figures prove that these flows have nearly halved if compared to the previous year, but are still plentiful (see http://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/southwest-border-unaccompanied-children/fy-2015) .

A series of actions were adopted by both the US and Mexican governments to prevent and deter the arrivals from Central America states, that resulted in a drop in the flows but did not cancel nor reduced the “push” and “pull” factors that drive those departures. As for the first ones, the so-called Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) are the most violent places in the world, where crimes, often perpetrated by criminal gangs, go unpunished at very high rates; those countries are also very poor, face persistent lack of economic opportunities and since 2014 have been experiencing a severe drought that particularly hit the poorest population, the families of subsistence farmers and laborers; as far as pull factors are concerned, millions of immigrants from the three countries live in the US and family reunifications lack legal paths, also because many immigrants are unauthorized; US policies and laws allow a special treatment of unaccompanied children from noncontiguous countries.

Beyond the actions run in the US to ensure unaccompanied children the fairest possible treatment, in late 2015 the Congress approved a $750 million development assistance program for Central America in order to address the root causes of departures. Humanitarian organizations are, however, skeptical as they are afraid that this considerable amount of money will lead to a further militarization of borders, pushing children to take even more dangerous routes, and be used according to an economic model that has guided the development programs launched in the last decades, that favored transnational corporations and national elites, and resulted in an increase of inequalities and poverty in the region. It would be a further defeat paid by the most vulnerable part of any society: children.

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