This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Central American Asylum Seekers on the Rise

Life in Central America--especially in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras--can be downright dangerous for a lot of people, and the natural human response is to get out. This affects both Mexico and the United States. Reuters reports that the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) is anticipating a continued rise in the number of Central Americans seeking asylum.
Mexico expects a sharp increase in people seeking asylum from Central America next year, fleeing gang warfare and poverty in their home countries, a senior official said on Thursday.

There has been a steady surge of Central Americans applying for asylum in Mexico since 2015. Cinthia Perez, a director of Mexico's refugee agency COMAR, said in an interview that she is receiving about 9 percent more applications each month.

There were 3,424 asylum applications in 2015, and she predicts ending 2016 with around 8,000. That figure could well rise to 22,501 by the end of 2017 if the trend of 9 percent more applications each month continues.
Many of these people will stay in Mexico, but once granted asylum they have freedom of movement within Mexico, and who knows how many will head to the U.S.-Mexico border. The election of Donald Trump seems to have spurred an increase towards the border in anticipation of potentially even tighter controls after Trump assumes office.

A related story from this week offers some background into the violence in Central America, and the role played by U.S. deportation policies in that violence. There is also a link there to a story last year in the Guardian in which my PhD student, Elizabeth Kennedy, was quoted regarding her very important research on this issue.

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