USA journalism failed to describe the rise in violence in Central America

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

At one point in my life I followed news in Central America closely. And at one time, this used to be easy, because there was more mainstream coverage of it. When Reagan was President, there was a lot of focus on the Sandanistas, which incidentally meant there were a lot of journalists in Central America, writing about it.

Apparently, things have gotten bad in Guatemala and El Salvador in recent years. I knew nothing of this, till this year. Now I see articles like this:

4) Why are more people coming now?

Trump’s first few months in office set records for how few people were caught trying to enter the US from Mexico, something he continued to brag about even as apprehension levels began to rise again in summer and fall 2017. (The claim made by Trump critics that unauthorized migration is at “historic lows” is based on the fact that yearly apprehension rates are still low in comparison to the pre-recession era, but apprehensions have been rising pretty much every month since April 2017.) And building on a trend that had become noticeable since the border crisis of summer 2014, the people who were coming were unaccompanied children and, increasingly, families.

By September 2018, DHS officials were raising alarms about the number of children and families coming into the US, and warning that the system was overwhelmed. Apprehensions continued to climb through the fall. Then in February, they skyrocketed.

The rapid increase from the beginning of 2019 to now still isn’t fully understood. It appears to stem from a shift in smuggling tactics and capacity. (While human smuggling is illegal, it’s used by asylum seekers who feel they have no other choice as well as people migrating for economic reasons.)

The rise of “express route” buses that can take hundreds of migrants at a time through Mexico in five or six days appears to be a factor. Many migrants who might have felt the chance of arriving in the US wasn’t worth the risks of a grueling and dangerous journey on foot through Mexico may be changing their calculus now that the risk is lower. Similarly, anecdotal reports indicate that smugglers are offering discounts for migrants who bring their children.

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