Julio Ligorria, the Guatemalan ambassador to the United States, said the surge of Guatemalan children traveling to the U.S. is not due to violence, as the Obama Administration has suggested.
Appearing on the Univision Sunday talk show "Al Punto" he said the surge is the result of: an interest in being with their parents; few opportunities at home; and the claims of smugglers who promise illegal-alien parents in the U.S. that the government will deliver their children.
Jorge Ramos, the host of the talk show suggested that children were leaving because of increased gang violence. But Ligorria rejected that notion saying the Guatemalan children were coming from north Guatemala, not the eastern part where gang violence has been concentrated. He said, "So violence is not the reason. It's essentially a matter of lack of opportunities, of trying to reach the American dream, but also to achieve family reunification. Many of the parents of these children are in the United States, and the children go to find them…The coyotes are taking advantage of the circumstances and conditions."
Ramos and Ligorria did not discuss whether the Administration’s "catch and release" policy is part of the decision-making process, but said his country will try to reintegrate the children returned to Guatemala and plans to educate parents and children about the dangers inherent in the trip north.
Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Tex., said the influx is creating a major strain for the Border Patrol. “If you’re just looking at the lower Rio Grande Valley we’re getting about 1,200 people a day,” Cueller said. “Over 70 percent of them are not from Mexico but from other places and 300 to 400 of them are young people coming in without parents. We’re facing a situation where the smuggling organizations know that if you send them to South Texas and they’re not Mexicans they’re from other countries there going to be released after awhile…Almost 40 percent of the Border Patrol Agents are not at the border they’re actually filling out paperwork, transporting, feeding, moving these folks around…After they’re housed for awhile they’re given a piece of paper and they’re asked to show up in 90 days or so, and I can tell you that probably 90% of them are not going to be showing up. Because after they traveled thousands of miles, paid a lot of money [to smugglers], went through a very dangerous situation they’re not going to turn themselves in.”
See more at the Center for Immigration Studies.
Updated: Wed, Oct 11th 2017 @ 3:08pm EDT