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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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Migrant children from Central America: addressing the root cause of the problem
Looking at the underlying drivers of children's migration and addressing the problem directly at the hearth of some of the Central American countries where migrant children come from would be another desirable solution. The ruling of armed gangs particularly in El Salvador and Honduras is widespread and violent groups like Maras control entire neighborhoods where the State is virtually absent. This trend is being fueled by high unemployment rates and lack of opportunities, in a vicious circle in which youth face the choice to either join the gang (often forcibly) or leave the country.
The trip across Central America on the notorious train is not safer than the journeys by boat towards the EU shores, though none of these Central American countries are at war like Syria is. Both young and adults are beaten, robbed, abducted on the way and often killed when families cannot pay the ransom. Many are pushed into drug trafficking, forced labour and prostitution.
On the one hand, having better immigration policies in the States would at least ensure that those unaccompanied children who flee from such contexts can find safe haven if they make it safe across the border. On the other hand, the US could enhance its efforts to support these countries to put in place other sort of measures on the ground and find effective ways to dissuade children to embark in such dangerous journeys. Gang prevention, rehabilitation of gang members, strengthened police control and above all alternatives to social exclusion, generation of better employment opportunities and poverty reduction should be seen as primary solutions to the problem.