Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Why Central Americans Migrate

Jonathan T. Hiskey, Abby Córdova, Mary Fran Malone, and Diana M. Orcés, "Leaving the Devil You Know: Crime Victimization, US Deterrence Policy, and the Emigration Decision in Central America." Latin American Research Review 53, 3 (2018): 429-447. It's open access.


Following a sharp increase in the number of border arrivals from the violence-torn countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras in the spring and summer of 2014, the United States quickly implemented a strategy designed to prevent such surges by enhancing its detention and deportation efforts. In this article, we examine the emigration decision for citizens living in the high-crime contexts of northern Central America. First, through analysis of survey data across Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, we explore the role crime victimization plays in leading residents of these countries to consider emigration. Next, using survey data collected across twelve municipalities in Honduras, we evaluate the extent to which knowledge of heightened US immigration deterrence efforts influenced respondents’ emigration decision. Though a vast majority of these respondents were aware of the stricter US immigration policy regime, this awareness had no effect on their consideration of emigration as a viable strategy.
It's been clear this summer that deterrence does not work--August numbers went up. Crime victimization--at least in El Salvador and Honduras--overwhelms any concern about what might happen to you once you get to the United States. Meanwhile, Guatemalans leave more for economic reasons, but are also not deterred.

But the crime angle is the focus here, and the one that we need to incorporate into immigration policy because it affects not just the questions of deterrence but also asylum. U.S. immigration policy right now is specifically aimed at making suffering worse, in the mistaken belief that if you reach a certain level of suffering, you will return home and cease to be a "threat" to the United States.

For now, sadly, we can expect the false argument that deterrence is something that can actually work, and that harshness is the answer.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP