Immigration from Central America to the U.S. goes up

While the number of Mexicans heading to the U.S. has dropped dramatically, a surge of Central American migrants is making the 1,000-mile northbound journey this year, fueled in large part by the rising violence, reported the Associated Press.

About 56,637 non-Mexican migrants, most of them Central Americans, were detained by the U.S. Border Patrol along the border with Mexico between October and May. That’s more than double the 27,561 detained in the same period a year ago. Meanwhile, the number of Mexican migrants caught at the U.S. southern border decreased 7 percent this fiscal year, to 188,467.

In fact, the illegal migration of Mexicans to the United States now stands at its lowest level in decades, according to a study released in April by the Pew Hispanic Center. The study found that over the last five years more Mexicans have left the United States than entered it.

“The reality is that a lot of Mexicans have sort of given up looking for work in the U.S. and have started to return home but for Central Americans the conditions may be even more desperate that the ones we’re seeing in Mexico,” said David Shirk, director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego to the Associated Press.

Honduras, with a population of 8.3 million, had the world’s highest homicide rate in 2010, with 6,200 killings, or 82.1 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. That’s up from 57 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2008. Neighboring El Salvador had 66 homicides per 100,000 in 2010. The U.S., by comparison, saw about 5 homicides per 100,000 people.

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About tanialara

Tania Lara has a vast experience working as a journalist in Mexico and the U.S. reporting in-depth about the economic contributions and realities of Mexican immigrants. This summer, she will be covering border issues and elections for the 21st Century Border Initiative blog. Her stories about complex cross border matters have been published in Spanish-language media outlets including CNN México, Expansión, and ¡Ahora Sí!, as well as the English-language newspaper The Austin American-Statesman.
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