Migrant children and families fleeing crime, joblessness



In recent months we have seen the rise of unaccompanied children on the border between the United States and Mexico. Many of these are from the northern triangle of Central America, formed by El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The phenomenon is complex and has many reasons: the increasing sophistication of human smuggling, which sees children as a niche market; criminal activity in parts of Central America and the endemic lack of opportunities for our people.

However, we believe that the main motive behind this flow of migrants is the desire of families to reunite with their children. Since no legal option for reunification exists, families choose the risky alternative.

At a meeting this Friday between Vice President Joe Biden and Central American leaders, our president, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, will reiterate our position that the primary endpoint in the phenomenon is family reunification. In addition, he will confirm the commitment of our government to work hard to improve the socio-economic roots of the lack of opportunities for our youth and our need to attract more private sector investment.

In this area, we thank the United States for the approval of the second compact of the Millennium Challenge Corporation and we hope to sign it soon. The second MCC compact will generate many jobs and important development in the coastal zone of El Salvador, the area where many of our migrants originate.

We will also redouble efforts to combat the scourge of gangs threatening to recruit our children. President Sánchez Cerén has established a security strategy that prioritizes the prevention of violence, community work and state intervention for the most vulnerable communities in our country.

We understand the concern of the U.S. government about the issue of immigration. We are aware that the phenomenon is not a stranger to electoral considerations; however, we must not ignore the fact that children detained at the border have universal rights that should be given priority over the interests of an expedient solution.

Children are entitled to receive special protection from our consulates, where we contact their family members, collaborate on reunification either in the United States and El Salvador and avoid re-victimization.

We emphasize that our consulates and U.S. legislation stress that any solution must be for the best interests of the children and their safety.

To protect our children, we have strengthened our consulates near the border and our deputy minister for Salvadorans abroad, Liduvina Magarín, visited the border this week to understand the phenomenon firsthand.

At the same time, our authorities will investigate the networks of human smugglers that profit from our families by offering them false ideas about unauthorized immigration.

The strategic solution is to address the socioeconomic causes that lead the citizens of El Salvador to emigrate to the United States.

Although we are confident that campaigns to discourage migration will be important to inform many potential migrants about the risk of the travel, the lasting solution comes from a strategic dialogue that the countries of northern triangle of Central America, Mexico and the United States will create about three issues with common roots: immigration, citizen insecurity and lack of economic growth.

Because of this, we welcome Vice President Biden’s visit to Central America, and hope it becomes a step in a frank, respectful and efficient dialogue.

We are willing to work for a country that offers more job opportunities to the vast majority of Salvadorans, less social and economic inequity and a safe environment for our children. This vision is enriched by the pursuit of a transnational approach that deals with the root causes of the phenomenon, rather than just treats its consequences.

These kids who come to the United States are not only the children of our countries. They are the children of our region.

Rubén Zamora is the ambassador of El Salvador to the United States.

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">FANCY FOOTWEAR:</span> Gov. Rick Scott’s custom-made boots showing the five flags that have flown over Florida.


    Crist needs to fire up black voters

    Is Charlie Crist in danger of pulling an Alex Sink by narrowly losing to Rick Scott?



    Sanford’s ongoing saga with himself

    As a South Carolinian, it befalls me to examine the peculiarities afflicting our former governor and now-congressman Mark Sanford, who, contrary to decorum and taste, continues to demand attention.



    Can Marina Silva shock the status quo?

    A few months ago, incumbent president Dilma Rousseff appeared to be coasting toward reelection despite a flagging economy. However, in August, political maverick Marina Silva was thrust into the spotlight of Brazil’s presidential campaign after the death of her running mate. Pledging to reform the country’s dysfunctional politics and jumpstart the economy with free-market reforms, Silva has surged to a tie with Rousseff in recent polls.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category