Friday, July 26, 2019

The Guatemalan City Fueling the Migrant Exodus to America

Guatemala is now the largest source of illegal immigrants headed to the U.S., with the emigration epicenter in Joyabaj, population 100,000 and falling
Since the beginning of the year, schoolteacher Teresa Quezada watched her boys and girls vanish. One by one, eight of 27 second- and third-grade students stopped showing up.
It was no mystery. They went north with parents chasing the American dream, part of a migration wave that has crashed on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Guatemala is now the largest source of illegal immigrants coming to the U.S. Apprehension of Guatemalans jumped to about 236,000 in the first nine months of fiscal year 2019 from about 15,000 in 2007, according to U.S. government data.
“You miss them, but there is nothing to be done,” said Ms. Quezada of her missing students. Gaspar Zetino, a shy, undernourished 9-year-old, confided to the teacher that he would be next. “I’m going with my father,” he said.
Guatemala, a Central American country of 17 million, is one of the hemisphere’s poorest. Six out of every 10 people live below the poverty line. Nearly half of the country’s population suffers from chronic malnutrition. It consistently ranks among the worst in the world for corruption and violence.
Guatemala’s economy has averaged 3.4% growth in the past five years, and the homicide rate has fallen by half to 22.5 homicides per 100,000 people compared with 2009. The U.S. homicide rate was 5.3 per 100,000 in 2017, according to the latest available data.
Yet those improvements haven’t been enough to counter at least three events that drove the immigration surge, according to immigration experts, Guatemalan émigrés, local officials and migrant smugglers.
First, a 2015 U.S. federal court ruling made it easier for migrant families with children to apply for asylum and stay in the U.S. until their cases are decided by a judge. After the ruling, many more families with children began turning up at the U.S. border. President Trump wants Congress to pass a law eliminating what he sees as a loophole in the law.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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