Washington, D.C. — As the humanitarian issue unfolding at the border continues to draw concern, a new statistical analysis by the Center for American Progress shows that violence—not the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, as some have attempted to argue—is behind the surge of unaccompanied children crossing into the United States. As experts discussed in a recent CAP press call, the increased numbers of children fleeing violence in Central America and seeking refuge in nearby countries, including the United States, has become a humanitarian issue that requires an international, holistic, and caring response.
Using data on homicides and homicide rates by country from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, or UNODC, and coupling this data with the number of children arriving each year, the author of the analysis examined the relationship between violence and children arrivals.
Analysis of the available data suggests that:
- Violence is among of the main drivers causing the increase. Whereas Central American countries experiencing high levels of violence have seen thousands of children flee, others with lower levels of violence are not facing the same outflow.
- By contrast, the evidence does not support the argument that DACA or lax border enforcement has caused the increase in children fleeing to the United States.
The author also examined the relationship between violence and unaccompanied children by using data on security levels in Latin America compiled by FTI Consulting, a global business advisory firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. Analysis revealed a clear link between violence and children fleeing, with more dangerous security conditions related to greater numbers of unaccompanied children. The data also make clear that countries in Latin America with lower rates of homicide are not sending large numbers of unaccompanied children.
“Instead of attempting to repeal programs such as DACA, the United States should ensure that these children are safe and secure, and that due process is respected in the handling of their cases. The United States should apprehend the smugglers and traffickers bringing these children here in the first place, and seek solutions that help quell the violence in their home countries,” said Tom K. Wong, author of the analysis. “The data show that this situation is a humanitarian and refugee issue, not an immigration issue, and all sides must not lose sight of the children themselves who are at the heart of the matter.”
For more information or to speak with an expert on this topic, please contact Tanya S. Arditi at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.741.6258.