The upcoming Summit of the Americas offers an opportunity for governments and other stakeholders to jointly tackle the issue of international migration. This is an issue that affects every country in the region and an issue that cries out for joint, coordinated action.
When Central American migrants are asked why they decided to leave their countries, they give a variety of responses; they’re seeking better economic opportunities, family reunification, protection from extortion and criminal violence, hope for a better future for their children. Often it is a combination of factors that drive migration, and the drivers of migration are themselves linked.
Most Central American migrants cite economic conditions as a reason for their decision to leave their countries. For some it is the only reason: they migrate because they can no longer survive where they are. For some, their loss of livelihoods is due to environmental pressures such as drought, hurricanes or the long-term effects of climate change. For others, their decisions to migrate are the result of both economic desperation and personal insecurity due to criminal violence. For almost all of them, poverty and loss of hope that conditions will improve are factors in their decisions to move.
The short answer to the question of why so many Central Americans are setting off on dangerous irregular migration journeys is stunningly simple: because there is virtually no way that they can move through regular, legal, safe channels.