A day in the life of Central Americans crossing Mexico
Over the years, I have spoken with Central Americans who've made the dangerous journey from, say, Guatemala to Texas. Yes, it is extremely dangerous. Young women have told me that they fear rape more than anything else. They run into wild animals, deadly snakes, and mosquitoes. There are no real friends once you start this trip to the U.S.
It starts by walking through jungles or deserts to avoid the Mexican authorities, as Azam Ahmed reported in the New York Times:
The police truck appeared suddenly, a glint of metal and glass. The migrants broke into a sprint, tripping over cracked pavement as an older woman sweeping her stoop urged them to hurry.
The 10 men rounded the corner and hid behind a row of low-slung trees. Four days into their journey from Central America, the new reality on Mexico’s southern border was setting in: Under pressure from the United States, the Mexican authorities were cracking down.
It raises the question: are things really that bad in Central America that people would run this risk to get to the U.S.? It's a complicated situation, as we would expect.
It's true that cartel and gang violence is tearing up small countries in Central America. Cartels have weapons and money, whereas many of these countries just can't keep up.
I think that they come for two reasons:
First, many families need to send their young men to the U.S. to send back money. El Salvador receives about $4 billion in remittances or "remesas." It's probably the strongest safety net in the country. My guess is that other countries have similar numbers.
Second, the Obama administration refuses to speak clearly and defend U.S. sovereignty. Also, we indirectly invite people to come north when we offer legalization to anyone who crosses over.
The attitude in Central America is simple: get to the U.S., and you are likely to stay.
On one hand, we appreciate a young man who wants to cut our grass and support his mom back home. At the same time, we shouldn't encourage people to come with vague enforcement language.
It breaks your heart, but we are a nation of laws. Finally, I'm proof that you can come legally to the U.S.