In the first large-scale deportation since the federal government’s promise to begin acting in response to the immigration crisis, 40 Honduran individuals were returned to their home country. The group, which included both adults and unaccompanied children, had been being held in a U.S. detention facility in New Mexico. Though the flight to San Pedro is only roughly six hours, it undoes an incredible amount of effort on the part of these individuals, many of whom spent weeks or months making the journey from Central America to the U.S.
Though the move has received praise from those opposed to immigration reform, the reality of the matter remains that it has hardly made a dent in the population of undocumented immigrants currently being held. It is estimated that roughly 82,000 undocumented immigrants remain in America, with nearly 57,000 members of that group being unaccompanied immigrant children.
The Honduran government has been cooperative with the United States, desiring the return of their citizens. Last week, the Honduran president declared the situation a humanitarian emergency and laid plans for the arrangement of a fund dedicated to returning their residents. According to Honduran first lady Ana Garcia de Hernandez, the group on the plane consisted of 18 mothers and 22 children, ranging from just several months old to 15 years of age. Hernandez expressed her concern at the high levels of children leaving Honduras.
“Clearly it worries us,” Garcia de Hernandez told CNN, “because we have always spoken about ensuring the best interests of the children.”
Regrettably, the best interests of the children seem to be one of the main motivators behind their decision to flee the Central American country. San Pedro Sula, the city where the plane landed, has developed such a culture of violence that it now has the reputation of being the murder capital of the world. This, paired with widespread gang recruitment from a young age, has influenced many of these individuals to leave in search of a better life in the United States.