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[IWS] CRS: UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN FROM CENTRAL AMERICA: FOREIGN POLICY CONSIDERATIONS [28 August 2014]

 

 

IWS Documented News Service

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Institute for Workplace Studies-----------------Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor--------------------Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

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Congressional Research Service (CRS)

 

Unaccompanied Children from Central America: Foreign Policy Considerations

Peter J. Meyer, Coordinator, Analyst in Latin American Affairs

Clare Ribando Seelke,  Specialist in Latin American Affairs

Maureen Taft-Morales,  Specialist in Latin American Affairs

Rhoda Margesson,  Specialist in International Humanitarian Policy

August 28, 2014

http://fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/R43702.pdf

[full-text, 24 pages]

 

Summary

 

In recent months, U.S. policy makers have expressed concerns about a significant increase in the

number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) being apprehended at the U.S. border. More than

63,000 such children were apprehended over the first 10 months of the fiscal year—a 100%

increase compared to same time period of FY2013. This unexpected surge of children has

strained U.S. government resources and created a complex crisis with humanitarian implications

for the United States and the international community. Although the flow of unaccompanied

minors appears to have slowed since July, experts warn it may accelerate again after the summer

heat passes.

 

Children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—the “northern triangle” of Central

America—account for the vast majority of those apprehended this fiscal year. While there is no

consensus regarding why exactly they left their homes, most analysts maintain that the problem is

complex, involving interactions between so-called “push factors” such as high levels of violence

and poverty in Central America and “pull factors” such as the desire to join family members in

the United States and perceptions about U.S. immigration policies. Given the diversity of the

unaccompanied children and their motives, the lines of distinction between and among refugees,

asylum seekers, and migrants are not always clear.

 

The surge in unaccompanied children from Central America has led to renewed focus on a region

with which the United States historically has shared close political, economic, and cultural ties.

The United States currently engages with Central American countries through a variety of

mechanisms, including the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade

Agreement (CAFTA-DR) and a variety of foreign assistance programs designed to promote

economic and social opportunity, ensure citizen security, strengthen democratic governance, and

secure a clean energy future. In recent months, the Obama Administration has sought closer

cooperation with Central American governments in dissuading children from making the journey

to the United States and targeting smuggling networks. It has also sought increased assistance for

Central American governments, requesting $300 million in FY2014 supplemental appropriations

to support programs designed to receive and reintegrate children and other migrants who are

repatriated to the region and to address root causes of emigration.

 

Congress has taken some initial steps to respond to the situation on the border, with Members

holding numerous hearings, traveling to the region, and introducing legislation. Bills were

introduced in both houses of Congress in response to the President’s supplemental appropriations

request. While S. 2648 would provide $300 million in new funding for programs in Central

America, H.R. 5230 would allow $40 million of previously appropriated assistance to be

reprogrammed to support repatriation and reintegration activities in the region. The FY2015

Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bills introduced

in both houses also include provisions to address the surge in unaccompanied children. S. 2499

would provide $100 million to address the root causes pushing children to leave Central America

and support reintegration programs, and H.R. 5013 would provide $120 million to help secure the

Mexico-Guatemala border and combat alien smuggling and human trafficking.

 

As Congress continues to debate legislative options to address the foreign policy dimensions of

the situation, there are a variety of interrelated issues that it might take into consideration. These

include Central American governments’ limited capacities to receive and reintegrate repatriated

children, and their inability and/or unwillingness to address the pervasive insecurity and lack of

socioeconomic opportunities in their countries that cause many children to leave. Other issues

Congress might consider include the extent to which the Mexican government is capable of

limiting the transmigration of Central Americans through its territory and how other international

actors are responding to the spike in apprehensions of unaccompanied children.

 

Contents

Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 1

U.S. Policy in Central America ........................................................................................................ 2

Background................................................................................................................................ 3

Current Policy Framework ........................................................................................................ 5

Initial Response to Surge in Unaccompanied Minors ............................................................... 7

Obama Administration’s Response ..................................................................................... 8

Congressional Action .......................................................................................................... 9

Policy Considerations .................................................................................................................... 11

Central American Capacity to Receive and Reintegrate Deportees ........................................ 11

Central American Capacity to Address Root Causes ............................................................... 14

Role of Mexico as a Transit Country ....................................................................................... 15

Selected International Efforts .................................................................................................. 18

Outlook .......................................................................................................................................... 19

 

Figures

Figure 1. Apprehensions of Unaccompanied Minors by Country of Origin: FY2009-FY2014 .................................................. 1

Figure 2. Map of Central America ................................................................................................... 3

Figure 3. U.S. Assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: FY1946-FY2012 ................ 4

 

Tables

Table 1. U.S. Assistance to Central America: FY2013-FY2015 ...................................................... 6

Contacts

Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 20

 

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This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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