Currents News Staff
The Migrant Protection Protocols, more commonly known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, requires migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico until their asylum cases are decided.
Poverty, corruption, crime, violence and environmental destruction has caused 2 million people to flee their homeland since 2014. The majority are coming from the Central American region called the Northern Triangle.
“It’s no secret that El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala form part of a war-torn region from the 1980s into the 1990s,” said Paul Angelo from the Council on Foreign Relations. “The legacy of civil war still informs the kind of violence that we see in the region today.”
Paul Angelo has spent years in Central America and just returned from a visit to Honduras and El Salvador. He says conditions on the ground are alarming.
“Corruption and impunity for corrupt acts is really at the root of all of the rest of these countries’ woes,” said Paul. “Corruption is the reason people do not have formal economy jobs, or access to healthcare, why people don’t have bank accounts, why people don’t have property rights, why people build their homes on farms on land that is vulnerable to erosion or to category 4 or 5 hurricanes.”
Northern Triangle countries are among the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. An estimated 300,000 flee the region every year. Of the 3.4 million Central Americans living in the United States, 85 percent of them are from the Northern Triangle. The vast majority make the trek through Mexico to America’s Southern border. Many are hoping to reunite with family already in the states.
Author and journalist Carmen Molina Tamacas immigrated from El Salvador 10 years ago and has documented the stories of fellow immigrants in a new book called “Salvi-Yorkers”
“How desperate is a mother, about the fear, about the children down there, that she pays a coyote or puts their children in charge of any people to make that trip,” Carmen said. “People risking everything, even though being in the shadows, being discriminated, being on the margins of the society in the United States is better than to have to live what they are living in their countries.”
The Biden Administration is focusing on those living conditions in an effort to get the growing crisis under control, but so far it’s had little impact.
“In order to unlock the human potential in the region, to stimulate the kind of activism that is going to get results you have to first meet people’s basic needs,” Paul said, “and you have to make them feel empowered and that is a space where the United States can be the most helpful.”
The overflow at the Border is further complicated by streams of Haitians joining caravans from other parts of Central and South America who are also planning to make the hazardous journey.
Despite the dangers, Carmen says when people are desperate, they won’t be deterred.
“I think people are always looking for the best and hoping for the best,” she said. “To get the best for them and their families.”
The Remain-in-Mexico policy is expanding along the Southern border to comply with the court order. The Biden Administration is asking the Supreme Court to step in to end the program.