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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs