Following pastoral letters from Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Gay Clark Jennings, some churches in Episcopal dioceses along the border with Mexico have been working to meet local needs of migrant people. However, in the media, there are many conflicting reports and stories about reasons for the migrant crisis. At Vox, Dylan Matthews features an in-depth interview with Cynthia Arnson, the director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars:
Dylan Matthews: What’s the process by which this is influencing migration patterns? Is there a reason we’ve seen an uptick recently? Has this just been going on long enough that people are starting to seek out other options?
Cynthia Arnson: It’s a trend that has been increasing, but not to the levels that we’ve seen in this fiscal year. So it’s very difficult to separate the various push factors, which include actual violence and fear of violence in one’s neighborhood, the lack of economic opportunity, poor levels of education, and also the desire for family members to reunite with parents and parents to reunite with children.
There’s some circumstantial evidence that rumors have circulated that all a child needs to do is make it to the US border and they’ll be reunited with their parents. It’s difficult to come up with anything more than circumstantial as opposed to systematic evidence of why this change has taken place. There also seems to be a mistaken perception that minors will be eligible for deferred action on deportation. There’s also circumstantial evidence or at least some indications that human smugglers are deliberately spreading and nourishing this rumor to convince people to pay the quite exorbitant funds that poor people pay in order to be trafficked illegally into the United States. There’s undeniably a role of perception, but it’s very hard to separate that, or isolate it from the other more longstanding push factors.
For the rest of the interview with Arnson, please visit Vox here.