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Why are thousands of unaccompanied migrant children at the U.S. border?

A new study from Pew reveals that of the thousands of children migrating to the U.S. without their parents, many are coming from poverty-ridden, conflict-prone areas in Central America.
Amy McDonald, Deseret News Modified: July 7, 2014 at 12:38 pm •  Published: July 8, 2014

More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the U.S. border since October 2013, a 92 percent increase from the same time period last year. The surge has created a crisis in towns along the U.S.-Mexico border as U.S. Border Patrol, FEMA, city governments and charities work together to manage the thousands of children who have made it to the border.

Pew Research Center analyzed documents from the Department of Homeland Security to find that poverty and violence are among the main forces driving thousands of minors away from their homes and to the American border. Most of the children came from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. The top three cities sending children to the U.S. are all in Honduras, one of the most violent places in the world.

Pew reports: "The Honduran and Salvadoran child migrants are from some of the most violent regions in those countries. San Pedro Sula (where more than 2,200 unaccompanied minors came from, making up at least 5 percent of all apprehended children since Oct. 1) in Honduras is the world’s murder capital, with a homicide rate of 187 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013 driven by a surge in gang and drug trafficking violence. For the entire country, Honduras’ murder rate was 90 per 100,000 in 2012, the highest in the world. In 2011, El Salvador was not far behind, at 70, ranking second in terms of homicides in Latin America then. Even with a significant drop in the murder rate from 70 in 2011 to 41 in 2012, El Salvador is only surpassed by Honduras, Venezuela and Belize in the entire world."

Pew also reported that Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are among the poorest nations in Latin America with 30, 26 and 17 percent of their people respectively living on less than $2 a day.

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