Friday, October 19, 2018

As Migration From Guatemala Surges, U.S. Officials Seek Answers

Photo: Daniel Volpe for The WSJ
These rugged rural highlands bordering the Pacific Ocean have become a prime source for the skyrocketing number of immigrant families crossing the U.S. border illegally and asking for asylum.
Migrant families from Guatemala seeking asylum in the U.S. have surged past those from neighboring El Salvador and Honduras. More than 42,000 Guatemalans traveling as families were arrested at the U.S. border from last September through August, up 71% from the same period a year ago, according to federal government data.
The reasons why aren’t clear. Guatemala hasn’t recently seen an upswing in violence, poverty hasn’t worsened and the national political situation hasn’t changed.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan went to the area seeking to understand why so many Guatemalans are heading north. Before his trip, he suspected hunger to be the leading cause.
Photo: Daniel Volpe for The WSJ
Several countries in the region “are really struggling to feed their people,” Mr. McAleenan said in an interview.
Understanding why migrants leave their home countries could help government authorities develop programs to deter them and ease the continuing family migration crisis at the southern U.S. border.
As of August, more than 90,000 immigrants traveling as families had been arrested at the border over the past 11 months, up 27%. That figure likely reach about 105,000 by September, the end of the federal fiscal year, according to a person familiar with the government’s border arrest data. The prior high for a full fiscal year was 77,000.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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