Guatemala City — Central America’s migrant drama continued in 2022 and, as a consequence, deportations also increased.
According to data from several international entities, more than 500,000 people from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras attempt to migrate irregularly to the United States annually in search of better living conditions, including thousands of minors.
However, the deportation of thousands of would-be migrants to Guatemala provokes a mixture of emotions, between regret and a slight hope of trying to cross the border again and reach and stay in the United States.
That is the case of Esmeralda Paz, a native of San Marcos, who told Bloomberg Línea that she feels frustrated, but said she will try for the third time to undertake the journey to the ‘American dream’, because she needs to improve her income to support a family of six, including children and seniors.
For his part, Carlos Soc, a Guatemalan who was deported at the end of December, told Bloomberg Línea that he paid around $5,000 in a bid to reach the US and meet with family members already living there, and who had offered him support, but when he did not achieve his goal, he said he will not try to migrate again because the conditions were “very difficult”.
During the last days of December of last year, such deportees spent between five and 20 days in a detention center in Texas before being returned to Guatemala under Title 42, the policy of immediate expulsion that remains in force in the US; according to the Guatemalan Institute of Migration (IGM).
Deportations increased in 2022
The IGM reported that in 2022, 94,633 Guatemalans were deported from the US, 128% more than during 2021, while the International Organization for Migration (IOM) states that, in total, 171,882 Salvadorans, Hondurans and Guatemalans were deported, mainly from the United States and Mexico, between January and October of ast year, which was a 72.1% increase over the 2021 figure.
Data on deportations to Central America’s three Northern Triangle countries state that El Salvador recorded 12,670 deportations, Honduras 78,248 and Guatemala 80,964 between January and October of last year.
Of the total number of deportations, 78,433 were from the United States, 92,718 from Mexico and 731 from other countries, with an increase of 71,987 cases in total, compared to the 2021 figure of 99,895 deportations.
Deportations from the US increased by 318.4%, while cases involving children and adolescents alone increased by 383.3%, from 3,696 in 2021 to 17,863 in 2022.
Attention to returnees
During the regional forum on where to orient policies to attend to returnee migrants in the Central American northern triangle, organized by the Association for Research and Social Studies (ASIES) of Guatemala, specialists detailed the characteristics that migrants have in common.
For example, every year, thousands of people from the three countries, including minors, try to emigrate, fleeing situations such as violence and poverty, two of the main scourges that provoke the exodus.
However, when they reach their destination, they suffer from other scourges, such as racism and assault.
The migration of Hondurans, according to human rights and environmental organizations, is also influenced by the lack of opportunities and the impact of climate change in that country.
Mauricio Díaz Bourdeth, of the Honduran Social Forum on Foreign Debt and Development (FOSDEH), says the problem of the recurrence of irregular migration lies in the fact that at least seven out of every 10 deportees declare their intention to attempt to migrate again.
This is especially true for young Hondurans who have already nurtured and built their migratory aspirations and do not find government programs or projects capable of dissuading them from attempting to migrate illegally.
Jahir Dabroy, an ASIES researcher, says that 52% of Guatemalan migrants who are deported consider migrating again; 37% think that they will not find a job quickly once back home, and 33% say that they will lack food, and 33.5% say they have debts at the time of their deportation. while about half of the deportees interviewed say they have no savings to fall back on.
In the opinion of specialists at the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development (FUSADES), few returnees show interest in reinsertion programs once back home.