Although there has always been crushing poverty in Central America, violence in the region has escalated in recent years. For example, Honduras has the most murders per capita of any country. Drug cartels and gangs are at the root of the increased violence. Some of these children are fleeing gang initiations, according to several reports.
But not all the children fleeing the region are arriving in the U.S. They are also looking for refuge in Mexico and other nations, such as Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.
Meanwhile, false rumors are circulating throughout Central America that the U.S. is giving families and children traveling solo permisos, that is, documents to permanently reside in the U.S.
Why can’t these children be deported right away?
Under U.S. immigration law, Mexican or Canadian children who enter illegally and alone can be returned immediately. However, children from elsewhere cannot be removed immediately and must first be taken into U.S. custody.