Gaza burns, Syria has stalled and separatists in Ukraine continually humiliate themselves. Closer and (un) justifiably overshadowed, is a crisis on the southern U.S. border. Approximately 57,000 children have traveled – largely alone – to the border (estimated 90,000 by 2014 end) from Central America.
The flood of minors has led to backlogged courts, inadequate healthcare assistance and few available shelters. This heavy toll on U.S. resources is, expectedly polarizing the north; blame being thrown between parties and governments. A select few are finding better approaches to solutions. Starting by finding out the reason exceptionally large groups of children are fleeing homes in Central America, particularly now.
Maria Elena Salinas is one of those select few. The celebrated co-anchor of Univision News, traveled to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to explore the circumstances under which the children fled. Covering 6,000 miles in eight days, Salinas interviews parents, gang members, presidents and human rights activists in her news special “Entre el Abandono y el Rechazo” (Between Abandonment and Rejection).
Her report amalgamates to a single, standout quote: “If you’re young in that country, you are condemned.”
Over 50 percent of deaths by homicide in Honduras are under 30 years old, meaning gangs give young people two options, fight or die; a similar situation exists in El Salvador. And In Guatemala, she portrays poverty as the predominant cause for parents sending children north. If you are young in Honduras, El Salvador, or Guatemala, you are condemned to impoverished living or gang violence. Yet, the trek north is historic, so what’s new? According to Salinas, not much.
“This has been going on for years, and years, and years. Now, I think there is [more] international attention because of the arrival of unaccompanied minors to the U.S. … and [governments on both sides of the border] should have been looking for solutions many years ago.”
The recent increase in Central American societal problems is perpetuated by unaccountable government corruption. In an interview, Salinas explains that the presidents of the three countries conveniently blame lack of U.S. aid as the cause for social issues, instead of creating appropriate oversight, which would make the already bloated U.S. aid package more effective. She is equally “appalled” by U.S. House Republicans for proposing an amendment that would essentially make it easier to deport children.
But blame is not the route to solutions. Salinas understands identifying and agreeing upon the shared problem, 57,000 abandoned and rejected children, is the first step to a cohesive, multilateral solution.