US and Mexico's mass deportations have fueled humanitarian crisis, report says
Tide of vulnerable people fleeing violence in Central America preyed upon by criminals and corrupt officials in part due to inadequate asylum procedures
Mass deportations and inadequate asylum procedures in Mexico and the US have fueled a humanitarian crisis where desperate Central Americans seeking refuge from rampant violence are routinely preyed upon by criminal gangs and corrupt officials, according to a new report by the International Crisis Group (ICG).
The tide of people fleeing Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala – three of the five most dangerous countries in the world – continues apace despite beefed-up border control measures implemented after Barack Obama declared the 2014 surge in undocumented migrants a humanitarian crisis. Last year, Mexico deported 165,000 Central Americans, while the US expelled 75,000.
In order to avoid detection, vulnerable people – who include increasing numbers of women and unaccompanied children – are forced to pay higher fees to smugglers, crooked officials, and kidnappers, and use riskier, more isolated routes through Mexico, according to the report Easy Prey: Criminal Violence and Central American Migration. Once deported, many simply try again rather than face hunger and violence at home, creating a revolving door of vulnerable migrants and refugees.
The report comes after the US, for the first time, recognised that the surge in people currently fleeing Central America includes potential refugees, not just economic migrants. The Obama administration on Tuesday announced a new scheme whereby Costa Rica will offer temporary protection to 200 eligible Central American refugees at a time before they are settled in the US or another country.
While the news was welcomed as a positive emblematic step by immigrant rights’ groups, there was widespread scepticism about its potential impact amid rapidly rising asylum claims. As violence in the Northern Triangle spiked in 2015, the number of asylum seekers from these countries rose to more than 110,000 – a fivefold increase from 2012. Most seek refuge in Mexico and the US.