New Research Shows That Violence Rather Than Economics Drives Migrants to Flee Central America
As noted in earlier articles, since our recession in 2008, more Mexicans left the United States than arrived, but there has been an uptick in illegal immigration from Central America, especially, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Many of these individuals come seeking refugee status based on the ongoing gang and cartel violence in their countries of origin. Some conservatives argue that they are actually seeking better economic opportunities and should not be considered refugees fleeing violence and repression.
Based on his recent research, Professor Jonathan Hiskey of Vanderbilt University argues in his article “Leaving the Devil You Know: Crime Victimization, US Deterrence Policy, and the Emigration Decision in Central America,” that most immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador, and to a lesser extent Guatemala, leave their homes because of crime victimization and violence and that current US deterrence policies have little impact on their decision to leave.
Vanderbilt University: “We found that one of the most powerful predictors of migration is if the person has been victimized by crime in the previous 12 months, and an even more powerful predictor is if that person has been victimized multiple times by crime,” Hiskey said."
"Hiskey said this suggests that migrants who have been repeatedly victimized are likely so desperate to leave that they are willing to take their chances in the U.S., no matter how hard it seems. These are not the kind of migrants who are likely to respond to measures [by the US] designed to stem economic migrants, Hiskey said. “What we see is a very different demographic profile of the individuals arriving now. The U.S. policy approach to unauthorized migration at the Southwest border, in my mind, has to change fundamentally to match who’s arriving.”
Photo: Senator Tim Kaine in Chamelecon, one of San Pedro Sula’s [Honduras] most violent neighborhoods.