A Central American view of the child migrant solution: The “Beast” and the Beautiful


HONDURAS, July 19, 2014 — The massive migration of children to the United States over the last several months starkly demonstrates that all is not well in Central America.

The response from Americans suggests that, perhaps, all is not well in the U.S., either. When the plight of children fails to inspire tenderness or elicit the impulse to protect them, the human heart has reached its maximum expression of decadence.

The latest figures show that more than 57,000 unaccompanied children between the ages of 3 and 17 have been arrested at the southern border of the United States this year, attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. All these children came from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. Interestingly, not a single child from Costa Rica was apprehended.

READ ALSO: “The Beast” – Immigrant “Death Train” has high human cost

All these children carry sad stories, tragedies of constant violence which has been their companion since birth. They belong to economically depressed countries plagued by high levels of corruption, impunity, insecurity, and violence. This creates a toxic brew that limits opportunities for education and employment, and robs them of the ability to make a decent living.

Most migrants are very humble people. Suffocated by a miserable life, they are easily seduced by the story of “The American Dream.” Adults who have managed to cross the border have been led to believe that once their children reach U.S. territory, they will be safe and will be allowed to stay. They will be free of the violence and poverty of their home countries, they think, and they can grasp the gold ring of that American Dream.

The traffickers who haul these children through Central America, to Mexico, to the United States are businessmen making large sums of money. These human traffickers are highly organized.

At the top are the “coyotes,” who run the business, make contacts and negotiate with organized crime to provide needed goods or to pay the”toll” that organizations like the Zetas charge on the Mexican border to let them pass safely.

There are the recruiters who run the marketing campaign. They constantly advertise to the parents that for less than $1,000.00,their children will have a good chance to arrive safely to paradise. They are the “facilitators” who constantly drum up business, talking about the opportunities and safety in the United States.

READ ALSO: Why our approach to immigration ‘borders’ on the absurd

At the low-end of the scale are the “guides” or “pullers” who are responsible for leading the group to the border.

The traffickers have the most modern communications devices and know exactly how to catch the attention of parents and route the children to the border.

Many adults have relayed horror stories of the trek to the border. Thousands die on their way and others are maimed for life.

Children suffer the same fate, including rape and violence during the trip.

Yet, despite the difficulties, Central American parents send their children north. These families are terrified that their children will be recruited by gangs or other types of organized crime groups, or that they will be executed for refusing to join if they remain in their country. They face the possibility of “eradication” by paramilitary groups that continue to exist, dedicated to “social cleansing.”

To avoid these even more relevant, present dangers, the parents prefer to risk the journey, in hopes that they can reach a place of freedom, of safety, and of opportunity.

Other families send children to the United States as part of the desire to rebuild their families. Often one or both parents have already come to the United States, to escape the tragic crumbling of society in many Central American countries, and they want their families to join them.

The reaction of the governments of the Central American countries has been ambiguous.

Mexico has promised to strengthen the border with Guatemala to prevent the passage of illegal migrants, especially children, but has not made any real changes. “The Beast”, the train that delivers stow-away children, continues circulating with its human cargo full of misery and false hopes. Although it is well-known that the train is controlled by traffickers, who literally collect tickets from the migrant children, authorities have made no move to halt its progress.

The Government of Guatemala announced it will investigate the parents of children who attempt to migrate and allow their children to travel unaccompanied. If the parents are found negligent, they will serve three to four years in prison.

Guatemala’s interior minister, Mauricio Lopez Bonilla, has proposed a regional network of intelligence and law enforcement to disrupt human traffickers. However, no action has yet taken place.

El Salvador has launched a campaign urging parents not to put their children’s lives at risk in hopes of discouraging parents from sending children to the United States.

Honduras, which contributes 60% of the migrant children, has dismantled the National Directorate of Immigration and fired all its officials, claiming that it was corrupt. It is now creating the “Institute of Migration and Immigration Policy”, which will be overseen by the Ministers of Defense, President, Human Rights, Governance and National Director of Research and Intelligence. The President, Juan Orlando Hernandez, has said he will appoint new directors and staff of the new unit.

Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala, Salvador Sanchez Ceren in El Salvador and the General Coordinator of the Government of Honduras, Jorge Hernandez Alcerro, will hold a meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss the issue and find a solution to the problem. They have asked the United States to increase spending in Central America, to improve security and economic opportunities.

The truth is that many of these little ones are trafficked, some are used for organ trafficking, others as slaves on plantations and factories, girls are often raped and sold to brothels. Many pay their passage in exchange for sex.

All these horrors are predicting a bleak and tragic future for many people.

READ ALSO: Obama’s fiddling over illegal immigration hurts African-Americans

Because of the complicated situation, senior members of the United Nations Human Rights Council are asking that the U.S. treat these children as refugees, not illegal immigrants. The UNHRC is concerned that if they will face unsafe conditions if they are returned to their countries.

Part of this tragedy is the growing public indifference. People are so immersed in fighting for their own survival that there is little sympathy to give to others. We read the stories and that is all they are, stories filling newspapers around the world.

To truly solve this problem, we must unite as a single society. We must start to believe these children deserve our concern and protection, and that it is in the best interest of all of us to find a long-term solution to the problem

Every one of us is responsible and has an obligation to work to alleviate the horrific conditions and resolve the problem. We must listen to the anguished cry of thousands of people who need to have their most fundamental rights respected and be allowed to live with dignity.

These children are far more than words on newsprint. They are living and breathing people, and we must find a way to open our hearts.

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  • iendecker

    We need to help US children. While I feel for these foreign children their own countries need to fix their own problems. We as a country do not need more illegals here of any age. The parents that left their children in those countries need to be reunited with their children on the trip back to where they came from

    • DekanogiUlogilv

      REALLY, what about the ones MURDERED, right in front of those “nasty” illegal CHILDREN, gunned down, their throats cut, children RAPED, siblings murdered, how you going to “reunite” a child with DEAD parents??? you have lived in your “safe” little vaccum your whole life, (thanks to the Indiginous YOUR ancestors murdered, so YOU could be here ILLEGALLY, because WE, did NOT, “invite” your ancestors here) now you have NO, compassion for others? Typical greedy, “Christian” attitude!

      • iendecker

        First off you better be first nation wgen you say “We did not invite you here”. I am Delaware. So your argument there is gone. Secound, why do assume I’m Christan? I’m not. Third. Look at a reservation or Chicago or south LA. We have pleanty of children starving, being recruited into gangs, murdered, raped, and having their parents murdered right here. I hear no yelling about the suffering of American children.

  • smiley

    Every time I see a picture of these illegal immigrants, there is no children, just older men and women. Where are all the kids? Why not show pictures of these children? Why were Senators and State Rep’s not able to get in and view these illegals immigrants at camps? What are they trying to hide?
    This is just another one of Obama’s plans to change America into a 3rd world country! Obama will go to any length to achieve his agenda. Obama has to be removed from office, any way possible, because America won’t survive 2 more years of treason by this man!!!!!!

    • cdo12

      This is why you don’t see many pictures of children. You have to work around the news and read what they let slip. Less than 20 percent are UAM. If you read the aritcles on the government wanting to house them, it’s 400, 600, teenage boys. They are never looking for houses for 200 young girls, although a lot of the teenage girls down there are as bad as the boys. This is not going to end well.

  • Sierth

    Have to agree there. While it is sad for them what are we supposed to do? Pay for theor food, housing and education while working for the next group to arrive? Therebare millions of those people, they dont like the situation in their country? Then fix it.. when the US didnt like living under the british they fought and won, when the dutch were controlled by the spanish they fought and won. Same with Egypt, ukraine and others. You don’t like your country? Tru and change it, shipping your kids off to get raped, sold as slaves is pathetic and cowardly

    • DekanogiUlogilv

      THEY, ARE, changing it! THEY, are taking BACK, OUR country, now, just like you colonials have been saying for years, things change, “GET OVER IT” LOL!

  • Me

    Carmen, try thinking practically. Do you really think your pablum helps America? We have so many problems of our own. How about all the children in Chicago suffering poverty and violence? Have you spoken up and demanded we spend federal dollars to help them? No but you are here crying about how Americans should care about illegals while our own American children suffer in poverty and violence.

    • cdo12

      22 shot and an 11 year old killed in 12 hours in Chicago.

      • pitriver

        Go in and clean up your neighborhoods. Report the gang bangers and drug dealers.

      • cdo12

        update. Make that 40 now.

  • dead dog

    ” Because of the complicated situation, senior members of the United Nations Human Rights Council are asking that the U.S. treat these children as refugees, not illegal immigrants.”

    Here we go again with the U.N. sticking their noses into our business again.
    The U.N. needs to clean up the far east with more deaths every day.

  • cdo12

    Correction on your article. Social Cleansing in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. There are groups of teenagers who run gangs of even younger children. Contrary to the common understanding, they do not sell drugs, as drugs are plentiful. They make the majority of their money extorting the citizens at gunpoint. They charge them fees of 50 percent. If they do not pay, they’re instantly shot in the head. The people got sick of it, and hired death squads to literally hunt these children at night. This is social cleansing. If these teenage boys are fleeing social cleansing, they are gang members. The military cracked down on them like 2 years ago, the police cracked down, and they’re being hunted. Their solution was to flee to their mothers in the US. The mothers who abandon them to the gangs. Now, do you want this here? If you need proof, look up the BBC documentaries on these countries. They’re eye openers.

    • Rose B.

      Do you have the name of one or more of those documentaries? Are they on YouTube? I’ve searched and am coming up with stories about shrimp farming – LOL! Then, I found a report about Honduras, but the video link was broken. I appreciate your help.

      • cdo12

        There’s another one called 18 With A Bullet. You can use those two as a jumping point and just follow the side links. Particularly the BBC ones. There’s one out there on the assassination of women in Guatemala. No one is ever prosecuted. Not one. 650 women murdered in a year, and nothing done by law enforcement. If you get an eye for the culture, you see what’s going on. It’s not exactly what we’re being told. These governments need their butts spanked. And we have to stop letting these moms up and abandon their kids to the streets. I’ve been following the BBC on this for about ten years now.

        • Rose B.

          So what should/could Americans do with the people crossing the border? What should Obama work for when he meets with Central American leaders this week? Ideas?

          • cdo12

            Now, knowing that the vast majority of these “children” are teenage boys, does this make you uneasy?

          • Rose B.

            Yes, it does. Especially if they were raised without parents – meaning the parents were in the U.S. and left them behind. Although some parents might have sent for them to get them out of harm’s way (either from gangs or law enforcement), others likely sent for them out of self-interest since these youths are old enough to “work”. The rampant criminality helps explain why many Hispanics are disowning their culture – those cultural ties can make them targets of Hispanic gangs operating both here in the U.S. and abroad. Central American migration is too dangerous for Americans to handle, especially with so many of them arriving. ….. I’m glad I ran across your post – I learned a lot.

          • cdo12

            The thing that struck me the most was the one kid waving the gun around, joking with it, with his buddies, pointing it at his friends, and the mom is in the background doing nothing. Going about her cooking and cleaning like it’s life as they know it. It’s very sad, and I feel very bad for the honest people caught in this mess, but it’s their mess. They made it. They need to fight and bleed and politicize to get their rights and freedoms. You can’t let your house fall apart and then just move into the neighbor’s and take over.

          • cdo12

            It is also very different from Mexican culture, with their strong father figures and family ties.

  • DekanogiUlogilv

    That these “people” who CONDONE, the murders of their OWN children, (locking them in cars to die in 100+ degree weather, throwing them in trash cans, leaving new borns laying anywhere, because “good “Christians” don’t have children out of “wedlock”, and the shame stigma, their OWN children are SO afraid, so confused, so UNTRAINED, they know no better. And GOD forbid ” oh, shudder, “sex education” , and life skills be taught in the schools(because the parents are too IGNORANT to realize, YES, your child DOES “do that”! No, it does NOT surprise me, that these “self same” self righteous, “Christians”, have NO, compassion, charity, or love, in their hearts for small children in the most DESPERATE of situations!