US and Honduran forces crack down on child migrants

World Today

Tens of thousands of child migrants were caught entering the United States this year. Most are from Central America. A new U.S. campaign could help reduce the flow. CCTV’s John Holman reported this story from Honduras.

US and Honduran forces crack down on child migrants

US and Honduran forces crack down on child migrants

Tens of thousands of child migrants have been caught entering the United States this year. Most are from Central America. A determined U-S campaign now under way could reduce the flow. CCTV's John Holman reported this story from Honduras.

A new U.S. campaign now under way could help reduce the flow.

The Tigers are a new Honduran police unit created to hunt down dangerous drug gangs, but recently their mission has changed — now they look for children.

They have caught more than 160 young people trying to reach the U.S., like 16-year-old cousins from El Salvador. And although this area was within Honduran lines, there’s likely no question who ordered this operation.

“The U.S. embassy is giving all the logistical and economic support for this operation. We’re under their supervision,” Juan Carlos Lagos Lovo, Tigres police unit, said.

In 2014, tens of thousands of Central American children have turned up stateside, lured by false rumors that residency permits were being given out to unaccompanied minors.

The U.S. government has been putting pressure on Central American leaders to stop the rush north at its source.

In Honduras, authorities have been clamping down on migrants of all ages. Until recently, buses were crammed with people starting the journey. Those same buses are now almost empty.

“It’s really gone down. At this time in the morning the bus was full!,” said bus driver Jose Fulgar. “That was when there weren’t police, or checkpoints.”

In the three hours spent hopping buses and trying to talk to passengers, Alexander was the only one who reluctantly admitted he was heading to the U.S.

He was very nervous about talking to CCTV America’s John Holman, but he said he’s leaving San Pedro Sula because there’s no work, no opportunities. He’s hoping that if he can get to the United States, he can use the money he’ll earn there to help his family in Honduras.

The journey north is long and dangerous. Bands of criminals prey on migrants along the route and thousands die crossing the desert into the U.S.

But many would rather take their chances than stay in Honduras, where two-thirds of children live in poverty and warring gangs have created the highest murder rate in the world.

Questions loom around what will happen now when young Hondurans find their long-established escape route cut off.

“The impact is going to be huge. Many young people who would have gone looking for the American dream are going to have to become criminals to survive,” Director of Honduras Youth Rehabilitation Center Rafael Mejilla said. “If the authorities are stopping migration they need to provide employment and security here.”