As images of children huddled in masses on immigrant detention centre floors along the US-Mexico border make headlines worldwide, the US government is responding with more of the same failed policies that have generated economic and social devastation in Central America spurring migration in the first place.
More than 52,000 children have been apprehended at the US border since October 2last year, most of them from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and many of them unaccompanied. At least 60,000 minors are expected to cross into the country this year.
With US immigrant detention cenres overwhelmed, these children are being housed at military bases. In a recent meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden in Guatemala, El Salvadora's President Salvador Sanchez Ceren was adamant that the rights of these children, whose principal motive is to reunite with a parent who had already migrated to the US, be respected.
Central Americans make up a significant portion of migrants detained in the US; Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans comprised nearly a third of all US deportations last year, among them 21,602 Salvadorans. This is no coincidence.
For decades, the US has supported brutal military dictatorships in the region, suppressed popular democratic liberation movements, imposed devastating free trade and privatisation initiatives and provided arms and demand for the drug trade.
Today, as political and drug-related violence in Honduras surges, the US is providing key support for the violent and corrupt regime of President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
Meanwhile, El Salvador’s new left-wing government is working to implement innovative social and economic programs to address the root causes of migration by stimulating local economies and providing basic services for the population.
In response, however, the US is pushing policies to undermine those gains, preferring to use development aid to promote the interests of transnational corporations.
Until US policy stops supporting violent and corrupt regimes and abandons its interventions for transnational corporate interests in Central America, children will continue to make the dangerous journey to the United States.
[Abridged from CISPES.]