Forum on Central American Immigration

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Photo courtesy of guardianlv.com

Molly McGuane ‘17, NEWS & FEATURES ASST. EDITOR

On Thursday Oct. 2, Professors John Carter and Bruce Erickson held an open forum for students and staff about the ongoing issue of Central American immigration.  The forum was held as a discussion to inform students and answer questions concerning the extremely relevant crisis of child migration.

Since January 2014, an estimated 57,000 families have arrived at the border from Central America.  According to the US Customs and Border Protection, the amount of children arriving at the border as increased 106 percent since last year, and the issue is only expected to get worse.

According to Dr. Carter, professor of anthropology at Le Moyne, this migration crisis of children and families has stemmed from the emergence of underground gang culture in countries such as Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

“The people you see coming to the borders are not criminals,” said Dr. Carter at the forum. “People are trying to escape a quickly eroding social sphere.”

The children and families fleeing to the US has reached an all time high because these Central American migrants are either threatened by gang violence or wish to escape gang participation, Dr. Carter explained.

The problem that the US faces is a lack of resources, funds, and space in order to help migrant families and children crossing the border. Migrant children usually do not attempt to enter the US illegally, and instead turn themselves over to US Border Control for refuge.

US Border Patrol, under current law, is required to take in child migrants for screening and then transfer them to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. From there children are either put in the custody of a family member already in the states, or are placed in foster care.  However many problems arise throughout this process and the growing number of children arriving at the border has led to an overload of the system.

Both Professor Carter and Professor Erickson explain that this isn’t a problem that can be solved overnight, and it will take people in charge, making policy decisions to make a real difference.  Senior Kailey McDonald said at the forum that one way we can make a difference as students and US citizens is by electing politicians who will make immigration issues a priority.

Large issues like immigration are also tackled by the masses that are willing to work to help.  Dr. Carter offered that one this we can do as everyday citizens is change the way we perceive the American dream, and encourage students to go into these fields where they may not be making millions of dollars, but they will be making a difference in the world and in the lives of helpless children and families.