/ Modified jan 29, 2021 1:46 p.m.

COVID’s economic crush fueling emigration from Central America

Apprehensions along the U.S. southwest border increased in December compared to 2019.

Policies from the Trump Administration meant to restrict entry into the U.S. have not deterred some from trying. According to data from Customs and Border Protection, the number of adults apprehended at the southwestern border in December rose nearly 180% compared to the previous year. Agents also encountered more unaccompanied minors. But the number of family units apprehended dropped by more than 50%. Factors driving emigration from Central America include the economic hardships brought on by the pandemic, according to Javier Osorio, an expert on criminal violence in Latin America and associate professor at the University of Arizona.

“Let’s keep an eye on the more important push factors that have to do with really bad economic conditions in Central America and Mexico caused by the COVID pandemic,” Osorio said. “So when we put things in comparison maybe yes, it could be a little bit of an effect of relaxing immigration policies in the U.S. as a pull factor. But when we consider the push conditions of economic hardship and insecurity in these countries, that really has a lot more weight in informing the decisions of these huge numbers of people moving across the border.”

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