Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan on Monday broke down how the immigration crisis is rapidly changing the demographics of Central American countries.
The DHS chief — delivering a speech at the 49th Washington Conference of the Americas — revealed that more than 1 percent of the entire Guatemalan and Honduran populations have emigrated to the U.S. since September. The comments were first flagged by the Washington Examiner.
“The current migration flows, especially of vulnerable families and children, from Central America through Mexico, to remote areas all along the U.S. border, represent both a security and humanitarian crisis. The situation is not sustainable,” McAleenan explained on Monday.
If the DHS chief’s numbers are accurate, then roughly 250,000 Hondurans and Guatemalans have left for the U.S. in the past eight months. The population size is nearly equivalent to that of Buffalo, New York.
Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) announced in April that 418,000 nationwide apprehensions have occurred this fiscal year to date. A total of 404,142 nationwide apprehensions took place last fiscal year, a CBP spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation. The numbers indicate how many more migrants are attempting to enter the country.
A large bulk of these migrants are family units and unaccompanied minors from the Northern Triangle of Central America — Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
While so many of them have already emigrated, many of the remaining citizens have still expressed a strong preference to move. A survey by a local Guatemalan newspaper found that 39 percent of its citizens intend to leave the country. Of those who said they wanted to go, 85 percent chose the U.S. as the country they hoped to land in.
While immigration reform has continued to be a priority for the Trump administration, new polling suggests that many more Democrats are agreeing that the situation at the border is, in fact, a crisis. Thirty-five percent of self-identified Democrats said that they believed the U.S.-Mexico border is experiencing a crisis, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released in April. The results were a more than three-fold rise from the last time the question was asked in January.
“We want to work closely with [Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador’s] customs administrations to help increase the efficiency of cross-border trade by reducing supply chain barriers and support exports and job creation,” McAleenan continued on Monday. “From an infrastructure, technology, automation, and legal perspective, DHS’s Customs and Border Protection is pursuing broad support for the region’s customs administrations to modernize practices in all of these areas.”
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