Increasing Tide of Central Americans Use Mexico as Gateway


The Associated Press is reporting that Central Americans are coming north through Mexico in increasing numbers to illegally enter the United States and swell the Latino population.
The story, reported from Tultitlan, Mexico, says, “While the number of Mexicans heading to the U.S. has dropped dramatically, a surge of Central American migrants is making the 1,000-mile northbound journey this year, fueled in large part by the rising violence brought by the spread of Mexican drug cartels. Other factors, experts say, are an easing in migration enforcement by Mexican authorities, and a false perception that Mexican criminal gangs are not preying on migrants as much as they had been.”
It’s the high murder rate that may be driving Latinos to emigrate from Central America. Honduras, in 2010, had 6200 murders in its population of 8.3 million. That made it the world’s highest homicide rate at almost 17 killings a day. For contrast reasons, the story reports that the U.S. murder rate is about 5 people per 100,000.
The AP story cites a Pew Hispanic Center study released in April that shows more Mexicans are leaving the United States than entering. Not so with Central Americans who were detained at twice the rate in 2011 (more than 56,000) than in 2010 when approximately 27,000 were captured.
Anecdotal evidence is offered a nun who serves the transient population of Central Americans. “We hadn’t seen this amount of people in at least four years,” said Sister Leticia Gutierrez, director of a Mexican Catholic bishops ministry that coordinates 54 migrant shelters across Mexico where Central Americans make up almost all the client population. “People keep coming, and coming, and coming, so much so that we’re scrambling to help those who arrive to the shelters because we run out of the few things we have to give them after the first trains of the day arrive.”