Bishop Romulo Emiliani Sanchez says the lies and lures of human traffickers are the root cause of the surge of illegal immigrant children at the U.S. southern border. Emiliani, an auxiliary of the Catholic Diocese of San Pedro Sula in Honduras, decried the tactics of organized crime and human traffickers for tricking parents and children into thinking that a warm welcome and easier life awaits them in the U.S.
It is unfortunate that the illusion and mirage that the U.S. is the best place for all of the children from Honduras, when it is a false and empty promise to say that arriving there they will have free education, health care, food, and clothing,” Bishop Romulo Emiliani Sanchez told the Honduran newspaper “La Tribuna.”
The bishop also said that it was a sad fact that Honduras could not properly care for its own children, and that basics like food and education were lacking for many. Catholic Relief Services’ Jill Marie Gerschutz-Bell called the border situation a “refugee crisis,” noting that gang activity and violence caused insecurity and fear for many families.
The gangs which are terrorizing young people and their families here initially got their start on the streets of Los Angeles,” she said. U.S. deportation of young people to Central America in the 1990s helped the gangs “flourish” due to the lack of jobs and easy access to weapons in the receiving countries.
Gerschutz-Bell called Honduras and El Salvador the most violent countries in the world. For instance, San Pedro Sula, Honduras, has in recent years been called the murder capital of the world. Figures from 2012 show that drug trafficking and gang violence led to 1,218 homicides in that city: a rate of 169 per 100,000 people. Compare that to New Orleans (considered to be the most violent city in the U.S.): there the murder rate is 53 per 100,000 people.
Bishop Emiliani says, while he understands the impulse to flee the violence, Honduras will not have a future if children continue to leave.