Why Not Stay?
You don’t need Google Translate to understand, “you’re not welcome here.”
This sentiment is echoed across Twitter and the news. With this being the loudest message, why have hordes of Central and South Americans chosen to make the perilous journey regardless? To begin to understand the motivations behind the massive undertaking, one can look to Honduras.
Between 2010 and 2015, Honduras’s murder rates were the highest in the world (World Nomads), securing its place as one of the most dangerous countries. Although the rates of homicide have fallen in recent years, the threat of gang violence and constant pressure of crippling poverty have forced many Hondurans out of their country of origin. Corruption and long-term military rule have resulted in an undeveloped, unstable country with an extremely weak infrastructure (BBC, 2018).
What would compel people to abandon their families, homes, and culture? The looming threat of death, perhaps. 96% of Honduran migrants cited work as a reason for coming to America. 20% of citizens live in extreme poverty (less than $1.90 per day), and an additional 46% live in regular poverty (AZCentral, 2019).
Why does the cycle of gang activity perpetuate? In low-income urban communities, young men have the option of leaving Honduras, dying, or joining a gang for protection. For those with families and children, the latter is the only option. Most small businesses are forced to close due to extortion, and children seldom receive any education. There is no way up; the only way is out.