Denver Newsroom, Mar 28, 2021 / 16:18 pm
Immigration pressures at the U.S.-Mexico border start in Central America—and these pressures need attention in the United States’ immigration debate, an official with Catholic Relief Services said.
“While the United States faces a humanitarian challenge at the southern border that demands political, social, and economic attention, the dialogue about the southern border must include serious discussions about the entrenched challenges in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador driving migration northward,” Dave Cronin, senior policy and legislative specialist with Catholic Relief Services, told CNA this week.
“We have to develop a long-term strategy toward the northern countries of Central America that prioritizes the push factors of migration and promotes the rootedness factors. In the absence of a long-term regional vision, these challenges will persist.
In January 2021, border patrol apprehensions of undocumented migrants stood at 78,400, increasing to about 100,400 in February—a 28% increase. These numbers include undocumented minors.
An analysis published by the Washington Post March 23, citing U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, attributed the increase in apprehensions to “a predictable pattern of seasonal changes in undocumented immigration combined with a backlog of demand because of 2020’s coronavirus border closure.”
Cronin indicated the novel coronavirus and its effects will likely increase the number of immigrants.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made living conditions worse,” he said. “The pandemic has destroyed local economies, making daily life for many vulnerable families next to impossible. Put simply, COVID-19 is exacerbating the many push factors driving people to migrate.”
Cronin said better support for prospective migrants could help them stay in their home countries.