News / USA

US Lawmakers Probe Root Causes of Border Crisis

FILE - Women and their children wait in line to register at the Honduran Center for Returned Migrants after being deported from Mexico, in San Pedro Sula, northern Honduras June 20, 2014.
FILE - Women and their children wait in line to register at the Honduran Center for Returned Migrants after being deported from Mexico, in San Pedro Sula, northern Honduras June 20, 2014.
Michael Bowman

The mass arrival of undocumented children to the U.S. southern border will not end so long as Central America remains a cauldron of violence, poverty, and desperation: that is the message U.S. lawmakers heard from a panel of experts who testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Central American parents who send their children on a perilous journey may incorrectly believe that minors have an automatic right to remain in the United States under current law and Obama administration policy, but that false impression is not the primary driver of mass-migration, according to Eric Olson of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Latin American Program.

“For many, the long odds of coming north are better than the impossible odds of staying," said Olson.

That is because El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala have some of the highest murder and poverty rates in the world, according to the president of the Inter-American Dialogue, Michael Schifter, who also testified before the Senate panel.

"Today, more Salvadorans are being killed than during the worst moments of that country's bloody civil war in the 1980s. What these [Central American] countries all share is a crisis derived from weak institutions and governance. The capacity of these governments to protect their citizens and deliver basic services is very limited. Corruption is rampant," said Schifter.

Shifter adds that any U.S. initiative that fails to reach out to Central America and improve conditions at the community level will not stem the child migration crisis at the border.

“U.S. assistance should prioritize key institutions, such as the police forces and the courts. This is the best way to advance the rule of law. There is no quick fix. Any serious effort will take a long time," he said.

Olson noted that, in much of Central America, 50 percent or more of youngsters do not complete secondary education. A dearth of economic prospects in Central America must also be addressed, according to Eric Farnsworth of the Council of the Americas.

“One critical component of a solution, I believe, is the creation of realistic prospects for economic gain within migrant-sending nations. In other words, good, legal, sustainable jobs offering the prospects for a better life and stability at the local and community level," said Farnsworth.

While not dismissing desperate conditions in much of Central America, the committee’s top Republican, Senator Tom Coburn, said U.S. policies have helped draw child migrants to the border.

“When you ask the people who are coming here, when they are intercepted by the Border Patrol, 90 percent think there is a free pass [to enter the United States]," said Coburn.

But the committee’s chairman, Democrat Tom Carper, says an enforcement-only approach to the border crisis will fail.

“There are strong and entrenched problems in Central America that are driving so many to make the risky journey north. Unless we take a hard look at those underlying problems, we will keep spending money to treat the heart-breaking symptoms at our borders," said Carper.

President Barack Obama has requested nearly $4 billion in emergency funds to accommodate and process tens of thousands of child migrants, and to boost federal resources at the border. Some lawmakers want to amend a 2008 law assuring immigration hearings for most arrivals other than Mexicans.

Legislators of both parties say the border crisis should be addressed before Congress adjourns for its August recess.

 

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs