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    Obama’s Reforms, Migrant Debt Fuel US-Mexico Border Crisis

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    The response of US President Barack Obama’s administration to the influx of unaccompanied minors on the US-Mexico border is only motivating more Central American migrants to make the costly journey north, the Huffington Post reported.

    MOSCOW, August 11 (RIA Novosti) - The response of US President Barack Obama’s administration to the influx of unaccompanied minors on the US-Mexico border is only motivating more Central American migrants to make the costly journey north, the Huffington Post reported.

    “The economy is by far the main reason why people (90.5 percent) emigrate from Guatemala. The country, according to the data, does not provide labor and economic conditions that foster personal and professional development of these people, despite continued economic growth of gross domestic product (GDP),” claims “GOING NORTH: Violence, Insecurity and Impunity in the Phenomenon of Migration in Guatemala,” a report published by the united children’s fund (UNICEF).

    “51.7 percent of Guatemalans who go see emigration as an opportunity to improve and increase their income; another 37.2 percent leaves Guatemala in search of better employment opportunities. To this we must add 1.6 percent of people leaving the country with the intention of saving or sending money to build a home,” the report states.

    The Obama administration has proposed expedited sentencing and deportation to solve the current situation on the border. The debts of a failed journey north will only motivate more migrants to attempt to cross into the United States, according to Murphy Woodhouse and Richard L. Johnson, University of Arizona graduate students who conducted extensive fieldwork in Guatemala.

    A single migrant can pay $5,000 to $7,000 to secure a coyote, a person who smuggles people illegally across the border through Mexico into the US, according to Woodhouse and Johnson’s research.

    Considering wages in Guatemala typically range from $4 to $10 a day, this cost is massive. In order to afford the fees, families are forced to borrow the funds from family, friends or moneylenders.

    Migration loans issued to people taking on the dangerous journey come with a 5 to 15 percent monthly interest rate over the principal. That would mean a $6,000 loan at 10 percent would force a migrant to pay an additional $600 per month in interest, making falling into debt an inevitable result of migration. Borrowers often have no option but to sign over the deeds to their homes.

    According to the article, a US wage becomes the only realistic way to address increasing loans and save collateralized homes and land. Migrants have nothing to lose if faced with rejection or deportation at the border.

    Obama’s $3.7 billion request to Congress to increase detention capacity, speed up deportation cases, and expand border security could fuel this vicious cycle.

    According to “In the Shadow of the Wall,” a 2013 report from the University of Arizona, deportation and increased border security is ineffective in discouraging deportees from crossing again. Policymakers need to research and debate alternative ideas in order to resolve the problem, the article published by The Huffington Post said.

    Border Patrol agents arrested about 420,000 people along the Mexican border this past year, The Associated Press reported.

    Since 2012, the number of unaccompanied children caught at the border is rising, and is currently double the number caught in the first 10 months of 2013. Obama has described the situation as a humanitarian crisis.

    Tags:
    economy, immigration, migrant minors, US-Mexico border, Barack Obama, Guatemala
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