When it comes to Central American migration, those in the US need a wake-up call

Posted by Editor
08/08/2018
Posted in Honduras, USA

There’s often a disconnect between the United States and Central American public’s interpretation of migration to the US. Stories like these, where the dire nature of many migrants’ experiences are put on full display, are a good tool to bridge the gap between these two perceptions. Remittances are a helpful metric for determining the value of migration to the US for many Central Americans.

Remittances from the United States are a much-needed, oftentimes vital, source of income for Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans alike. In 2017, remittances to Honduras reached $4.3 billion USD, but that number may be threatened by tightened immigration enforcement in the United States.

In Honduras and El Salvador, remittances account for nearly one-fifth of economic output, according to the World Bank. Cutting the migrant flow risks further economic deterioration that could spark even more migration, experts say.

In Honduras, where two-thirds of the country’s nine million people live in poverty, about one in four families receive remittances, said Manuel Orozco, a migration expert at the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based think tank. Last year, they received on average 16 transfers of $281 each, Mr. Orozco said.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen recently met with officials from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico over ways to promote economic prosperity and discourage illegal immigration. The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that the officials discussed deepening cooperation to disrupt human smuggling, strengthening the local police forces and expanding the region’s ability to provide migrants with asylum.

The statement didn’t mention remittances, and the Department of Homeland Security didn’t respond to requests for comment.

This article appeared originally in the Wall Street Journal

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