Report | Trade · Immigration · Global Worker Rights

Examining the Root Causes of the Central American Refugee Crisis

In recent months, thousands of refugee children and their families have fled dangerous conditions in their communities, making the perilous journey through Central America and Mexico and arriving in the United States. By fleeing violence in their home countries in Central America, many become victims of trafficking, sexual abuse and further violence. They take on these risks and travel thousands of miles because staying home simply is not an option. The crime, violence, crushing poverty and failure of governments to protect the lives and rights of citizens in their home countries are so extreme that children and their families see little choice but to undertake a life-threatening journey to survive, hoping for a better future. To begin to address this complex phenomenon, which nativists in the United States have labeled incorrectly as an “immigration” problem that only can be solved with enhanced border controls, we must target the root causes of this massive displacement. Unfortunately, flawed U.S. foreign and trade policies have exacerbated dangerous conditions in these countries, breeding desperation. The answer is not more militarization of the border or callous treatment of refugee children, but rather a reimagined approach to relations in the region.

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