The United States closed off the San Ysidro border Sunday, Nov. 25 so members of the migrant caravan could not cross into the U.S. As people have fled their countries, three residents of Washington state said Thursday, Nov. 29 they had left their country to make a better life in the United States. Yet, living here is not what they had envisioned the American Dream would be like.
People flee their countries for many reasons: violence, financial struggles and lack of opportunities. The United States deported tens of thousands of convicted criminals in 1996 to Central America due to the "Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act." This led to the growth of gangs like MS-13 and Barrios 18 in Central America when both gangs formed in the United States, according to The Atlantic.
Central Americans have fled their country for economic reasons. In Honduras, about half the population is under the poverty line. Many people will come to the United States and send money to support their families because that is a crucial source of income, according to BBC News.
Teri G, a waitress at Hollywood Tavern in Woodinville, Washington, has been with her significant other, Riccardo from Mexico, for two years.
"Having to watch your loved one be in fear every day of being deported and constantly having to worry about places we can't go," Lipking said. "Having to see Augustine cry because he hasn't seen his mom in 20 years... because it takes so long to get a visa."
Why People Are Leaving Their Country?
"Certainly [Honduras has] issues of poverty, relative poverty," said Dr. Marx. "A lot of the people are poor [ and ] the rate of unemployment is relatively high [ compared to the United States at a four to five percent ] and down there it's often in the 20 percent or above. So many many people would like to find work, but cannot,"
Corruption within the government is a huge issue in Honduras, he added.
"I think a reason people really want to leave is there is a lot of corruption, meaning you can't really believe or trust the authorities, for example," said Dr. Marx. "A lot of bribery takes place and then that is coupled with increasing crime with a lot of the larger cities they have bands of gangs . . . that can be very brutal in reaching out and trying to contact and conscript young people..."
It is hard for a family who live in "red zones" — communities plagued by gangs — to keep their kids away from gangs. They have to work more hours, so their kids get transported to school without coming in contact with gangs.
For some parents, it is too late for their kids. In El Salvador alone there are about 65,000 active gang members, according to The Atlantic.
"Gangs will contact and conscript young people," added Dr. Marx. "For example, if you are parents and you have a couple of kids and they walk to school, they cross through this gang area and the gangs, of course, will try to use everything they can to conscript those kids and sometimes they use violent means."
Gangs will use any types of strategies to try can get what they need or want from people and they will go to any lengths to get it, he noted.
" Within the last several years I know the gangs have really become savvy," said Dr. Marx. "They will blackmail people, they will come up to a business for example in their town and demand payment. They will call it a war payment and if that business does not pay that gang a certain amount for protection, then the gang will break their windows, burn [ the business down], and threaten [ their family will kidnapping, gang recruitment, and rape]."
Coming to the United States
Many people come to the United States because of the American dream — that a person can have a better life by working hard in the United States. Many people leave behind their old life and sacrifice their time with family to migrate to the United States.
Rosa O, a waitress at Mazatlan in Aberdeen, Washington, said: "I came to the United States in search for a better future, and a better job. It has affected me because I am away from family, and you come over here and you leave your family behind and you don't see them in a long time...,"
Some people's main goal is to come to the United States is for financial stability because jobs pay more here than they do in different countries.
"My reason for coming back [ to the United States] was to help my parents out with money because in Mexico working all day they earn what I earn in an hour and that's not fair for them," said Araceli Valencia, a waitress at El Valle in Sunnyside, Washington.
According to The Washington Post, many of the participants in the migrant caravan wanted better opportunities for jobs, good schools and to leave the threat of violence.
Many have set this dream aside to seek asylum in Mexico and start working. Mexico's President, Mr. López Obrador is going to offer about 100,000 work permits to the migrant caravan members.
Eddy V, an entrepreneur, said: "And on the other hand I migrated because I wanted [ more wealth so I can] progress. We had jobs, but I wanted to earn more money and that's why I'm here."
The Migrant Caravan
The U.S Customs and Border Protections tear gassed members of the migrant caravan Sunday, Nov. 25 when they tried to rush the border fence.
"It's not right for them to be using tear gas because it's affecting the little kids," Olivera said. "It's not right for them to use force against them, and it's not right for the people from the caravan to try and get into the United States by using force, and they should have done things more calm and right."
Some members from the migrant caravan tried to cross the border into the United States Tuesday, Dec. 4 at sunset near Playa de Tijuana. The U.S Customs and Border Protections caught the members from the migrant caravan at the border.
One woman and children wanted to seek asylum, but the men they were with didn't want to get caught, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
People apprehended when they tried to cross the border without permission had no criminal prosecutions according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
"I am a believer and I look to the Bible as my guide, in there it talks about being kind and compassionate to the alien," Dr. Marx said. "For example, to the immigrants, we do have a tremendous amount of wealth up here. Certainly, we don't want to have people come in who are criminals and who many threaten other folks and may cause problems, but at the same time, I feel... a responsible as much as possible to let people in from the outside and give them a chance. "