One month after the death of 42-year-old hotel worker and Mexican migrant Lucia Vega Jimenez in Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) custody, I received a call from a young Haitian woman at the same prison Lucia had been in. Unlike most detainees, she did not call to ask for legal advice to fight for her release, nor was she seeking support to stop her deportation. She called to ask me if I could find information on preventing the spread of infection. She had just miscarried.
One month after Lucia’s death, another migrant death in detention.
A coroner’s inquest into the death of Lucia is scheduled to begin today. Lucia was found hanging in detention cells at the Vancouver International Airport — what has been referred to as a dungeon — nine months ago. Lucia’s death was kept secret by CBSA for over a month, until community groups revealed the information to media and called for an independent investigation. (These same community groups are now being shut out of the inquest, much like the process of the Missing Women’s Inquiry).
Over the next week, media will focus on whether CBSA responded soon enough. They will question whether prison operations should be offloaded to private companies. They will recommend that CBSA use electronic bracelets as an alternative to detention.
However, the ideological foundation of the prison industrial complex, systemic policies of refugee exclusion, and the cultivation of racist fears to justify migrant detention will remain unchallenged at this inquest. Even if the inquest tries to ignore it, the global crisis of self-harm and deaths in detention centres, aboard teeming ships, and in blistering deserts is unfolding in front of our eyes.
In Canada, there have been a number of migrant deaths in detention, while awaiting deportation, or upon deportation. In the past five years, these include Jan Szamko, Habtom Kibreab, the Walji family, Hossein Blujani, Grise, and Veronica Castro. In the U.S., 106 people have died in immigration detention centres since 2003, and an average of 450 migrants die every year as a result of border militarization policies. The death toll of 3,000 migrants off Europe’s shores this year is already quadruple the numbers from last year. InAustralia, almost 2,000 deaths connected with border controls and migrant prisons have been recorded over the past 13 years. This includes the recent death of 24-year-old Iranian asylum-seeker Hamid Kehazaei at the Manus Island detention centre.
These migrant deaths within Western colonial states are not random acts; they are enabled through systematic policies of racism and exclusion. People don’t happen to die in detention or at the border or in cargo ships, they die precisely because securitized detention centres and militarized borders make their bodies, journeys and humanities vulnerable. Geographer Mary Pat Brady describes migrant deaths as “a kind of passive capital punishment.”
Migrant deaths are therefore more accurately described as migrant killings.
Refugee exclusion and migrant detention in Canada
This month marks the one-year anniversary of the historic migrant strike in the Centre East Correctional Centre in Ontario. Over 100 incarcerated migrant detainees are demanding a basic freedom: to not be detained indefinitely. As Amin Mjasiri asked from segregation, “What am I doing in a maximum-security prison for 28 months?” Striking migrants have faced reprisals, with many locked up in segregation or deported.
Over the past 10 years there has been an average of 11,000 migrant detentions per year, including up to 807 children detained each year. In 2013, migrant detainees spent a whopping total of 183,928 days (that’s over 503 years) in immigration detention. According to a ground-breaking report, fewer migrants are being released from detention each year, with a national release rate average of just 15 per cent. One-third of all migrant detainees are held in provincial prisons, including in maximum-security facilities.
Migrants are the only population within Canada who can be incarcerated simply on administrative grounds without being charged with a specific criminal offence. This makes migrant detention incredibly arbitrary and can lead to indefinite detention. There are countless cases of people behind bars for one year, four years, six years, with no release date in sight. Canada is now also becoming one of the few Western countries to practice mandatory detention. Due to Harper’s recent Refugee Exclusion Act, many refugees, including children, face mandatory incarceration upon arrival, such as the Tamil asylum-seekers who were aboard the MV Sun Sea.
For migrants like Lucia, the Refugee Exclusion Act also means a discriminatory two-tier system based on nationality. Countries like Mexico are classified as “safe” — making it essentially impossible to seek asylum — and Canada fast-tracks deportations to these countries. Between 2006 and 2011, CBSA carried out 83,382 deportations. Canada has also imposed visa requirements on Mexico and other countries, making it much harder to even come to Canada, let alone claim asylum. The number of refugee claims has decreased by 50 per cent and the number of accepted refugees has dropped by 25 per cent. Many refugees face limited legal options including no right to appeal, while drastic cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program for refugees means no access to basic health care.
It is evident that Canada’s laws are increasingly geared towards keeping people out unless they represent cheap labour or capital. Refugees are stereotyped as “floods of people” from “over there” who are “fraudulent” or “security threats.” These narratives buttress moral panics about “keeping borders safe and secure,” and hence justify refugee exclusion and migrant detention.
It is tiring to regurgitate statistics on detention, to emphasize that there are children behind bars, to repeat that detainees are incarcerated indefinitely without charge. The reality is that migrants are not seen for their humanity but instead as a problem to be managed. This is not new; anti-migrant racism is central to this settler nation.
The disturbing practice of locking up people for the mere act of migration is part of a broader trend of prison expansion.
Despite the lowest crime rate since 1972, the budget for the Correctional Service of Canada has increased 40 per cent under the Harper government. Most if it is going towards prison expansion, with federal and provincial governments adding 9,700 beds at an estimated cost of $4 billion, which criminology professor Matthew Yeager calls, “the largest prison expansion since the 1930s.”
Prison expansion invariably requires expanding prison populations. In addition to tough-on-migrants legislation, tough-on-crime laws, including mandatory minimum sentencing, will send more people to jail for minor crimes for longer periods of time. About 55 per cent of incarcerated people in Canada are already in pre-trial custody, which means they are actually legally innocent and awaiting trial or bail.
Detention centres and prisons are part of the growing prison industrial complex that overincarcerates Indigenous people, Black people, homeless people, Muslims, and migrants of colour. According to a report tabled in Parliament last year by Howard Sapers, the Correctional Investigator for Canada, the number of racialized people in the prison system has increased by 75 per cent and the number of Indigenous people has increased by 46.4 per cent over the last 10 years. One in three women behind bars is Indigenous.
Meanwhile, the number of whites incarcerated has dropped by 3 per cent.
As Angela Davis writes, “Regardless of who has or has not committed crimes, punishment, in brief, can be seen more as a consequence of racialized surveillance.” In North America, we can look to the countless police beatings and killings of Indigenous and Black women and men, such as Jamie Haller, Dudley George, Yvette Smith and Michael Brown, to understand that certain bodies are disciplined as suspicious even before any so-called criminal act has been committed.
Prisons and detention centres perpetuate the notions of “undesirables” based on race, gender, class and nationality, while also criminalizing communities in order to maintain state control, capitalist profits, and social hierarchies. The coroner’s inquest into Lucia’s death may expose some horrifying details about migrant detention, but it will not restore Lucia’s humanity and her right to be free. We therefore have to fully reject migrant and prison industrial complexes, as well as the social landscapes of imprisonment that hold them up. We need to embody an ethical orientation of the world in which all the walls and cages fall, and we are all free.
It’s 4:30 am and I haven’t finished either of my essay outlines that are due today. What am I doing with my life? Oh yeah… just still not knowing how to deal with anything or how to say no when someone begs me to take their shift at work.
I wish that I could give you a definite answer. I wish that I could say, “Oh yes, these are the absolute ten best songs for swing dancing out there, and that’s a fact.” But I can’t do that, because “best” is a subjective term, and each person has their own idea of what the “best” songs are for swing. This is a fact that both perturbs my scientific mind and pleases my artistic soul. While everyone’s got their own musical taste and ideas of what the best swing dance songs are, there are some general things that make for a good swing song - the chief of these standards is this: the music has to make you want to move. So, while I cannot give you an absolute list of the top ten best songs for swing dancing, I can give you a list of my favorites (in context of how good they are for dancing, not just how much I like them), all of which inspire movement in me.
Since you just said swing, I’ll give lists for both lindy hop and west coast swing. Bonus! ;)
Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen. I tried to pick which artist, I really did. But there are so many versions of this song, and I love almost all of them! This song is one of my most favorite songs of all time, and it’s great for dancing. I love how dynamic it is; you can really express yourself. It has bluesy bits, swinging stretches, and some opportunities for fast dancing.
Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens by Louis Jordan. This song is straight up silly. In that way, I feel like it embodies swing dancing. Also, it’s the perfect song for peckin’.
I Diddle by Dinah Washington. The first time I heard this song, it was one of those moments where you just go, “OOOOH.” It’s got a great beat, fun lyrics, and it’s got a lot of character. And really, how could you not love a song where “hehe” is part of the lyrics? Super fun to dance to.
Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball? by Count Basie and His Orchestra. I think I first discovered this song via Pandora. I love this one for reasons not fully known. It’s just a fun song.
Diga Diga Doo by Jonathan Stout And His Campus Five feat. Hilary Alexander. I love this song a lot. It’s quite fast, and is great for Charleston as well. Two other versions I love are by Artie Shaw and Duke Ellington.
Comes Love by Artie Shaw & His Orchestra feat. Helen Forrest. First off, this has Helen Forrest, whom I adore. Second, I love the overall sound of the song, and I’ve always loved the lyrics. It’s a slowish lindy.
Harlem Mad by Glenn Crytzer and His Syncopators feat. Meschiya Lake. This is a pretty fast one. I’m a big fan of Glenn Crytzer and His Syncopators!
Minnie the Moocher by Cab Calloway. I cannot be dissuaded from my love for this song. It’s a bluesy lindy or a lindy-ish blues. I know every single word and, yes, I will sing them all while I dance.
On Revival Day by LaVern Baker. This song has a great tempo, it’s very happy, and it’s playful.
Yes, Indeed! by Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra. I lovelovelovelovelove Tommy Dorsey. He’s one of my favorites - if not my number one - of the classic swing dudes. I own quite a few of his vinyls. Yes, Indeed! is probably my favorite song of his for lindy hop. It fits lindy hop so well.
West coast swing
Pinpointing “best” songs for WCS is even more difficult than for lindy hop, simply due to the nature of the dance. You can make any song into a west coast, really. It should be noted that, for WCS, I generally seem to prefer bluesy/sultry/R&B more than funky/pop-y/energetic.
Tonight (Best You Ever Had) by John Legend feat. Ludacris. This is just a great song for west coast. Personal anecdote: one time I was dancing to this song and I was singing along. The guy I was dancing with said, “I take it you know this song?” and I, singing along, responded with: “I don’t wanna brag…” and it was a golden moment. Then, months later, I was dancing with someone else to this and I told them the story and just so happened to sing “I don’t wanna brag” at just the right time again. Amazing.
No Diggity by Blackstreet feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen. A classic. I also really love the Chet Faker cover.
California Dreamin’ by Queen Latifah. In my opinion, Queen Latifah’s cover of this song is the best version out there. California Dreamin’ is my magical song; every dance I’ve ever had to this song has been amazing. Like, people on the sides applauded after watching me dance to it. (Which is remarkable considering I’m pretty much a derp-face Westie.)
Heartbreak Hotel by Grieves. Words cannot express how much I love this song. Dancing to it is like a dream. It’s a slow, lyrical west coast and it actually stumps quite a few dancers. But if you can find a partner who is comfortable with their musicality, this song is absolutely magical.
Sexxx Dreams by Lady Gaga. Some venues won’t even go near this song, and I mean… I understand why. But I love it so much. It’s great fun to dance to; there’s a lot of room to play around and it’s ah-may-zing for double trouble and/or stealing.
I See Fire (Kygo Remix) by Ed Sheeran. I’m not generally a fan of remixes, but this one is superb. I got to do a legendary double trouble to this with two friends of mine, so it holds sentimental value. Worth noting: Ed Sheeran actually has quite a few good songs for dancing.
Traum by CRo. Yes, this song is in German. I’ve never heard it played at any WCS dances, which make sense considering I live in the US. This is a fast west coast, but quite happy and enjoyable. I really enjoy dancing to it.
Don’t Wait by Mapei. Just a beautiful song. Its beat is easy to hear, too.
Am I Wrong by Nico & Vinz. This song just suits west coast. It just feels so right. Am I wrong? ;)
Latch (Acoustic) by Sam Smith.Latch has recently really caught on (pun not intended) with the competition circuit, and for good reason. For starters, it’s a beautiful song. But it’s great for WCS. A lot of acoustic songs don’t quite cut it, but this one works. The original, a collaboration between Disclosure and Sam Smith, also works for west coast, but it has a decidedly different flavor. Personally, I prefer the acoustic - but the original is good, too. (Worth noting: La La Latch by Pentatonix is amazing and works as a fast WCS.)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this verbose listing. It’s not a definitive list of the “best” songs for swing, or even the most popular - but it’s a list of songs that make me need to dance, that suit the mood of the dance, that are quality pieces. I hope this answers your question well enough!
Haven’t been sick-sick since I had to call in to work because I’d lost my voice completely over the summer, but I’m on my third cold sore this month. I’m also exhausted and apparently it’s not because of my thyroid or else I would have had a phone call from the doctor’s office after I got my bloodwork done.
Would absolutely love to get this stuff sorted out.
Ottawa is spending $13.4 million so its tax auditors can descend, locust-like, on charitable groups not in lockstep with Harper’s worldview, searching for real or imagined evidence they’re devoting more than 10 per cent of their resources to political advocacy.
today is bi visibility day. as such, bisexual people will be completely visible for the next 24 hours. this is a bad day to engage in bank heists, ghost impersonations, covert operations for vague yet menacing government agencies, and other common bisexual hobbies that rely upon our powers of invisibility.
Today was a pretty good day with my grandmother. For most of the visit she had some idea who I am, although at some point she told a PSW that I was her mother who had come to visit. We sat for a while and she told me about her paintings again. She’s losing her grasp on some of them, but for others she can still tell the anecdotes I remember from when I was a kid.
On the topic of paintings…The long term care home she’s in is participating in Toronto’s Nuit Blanche art festival. Art by residents is going to be shown in a gallery downtown. I haven’t gone to Nuit Blanche the last few years, but this is something I cannot miss. Kevin wants to come with me which is really wonderful; the support will be needed, I’m sure.
On Thursday, I vote to rectify hundreds of years of colonialism. Canadian media is quick to inform that Scotland’s referendum is a matter of great importance to us and our Scottish “cousins,” eager to tell us this process is eerily similar to Quebec’s aspirations of sovereignty.
Less attention, however, has been paid to the concrete relationship between Canada’s indigenous peoples and Scottish self-determination. As a Métis woman — with fur-trade roots that stretch back to 19th- and 20th-century Scotland, England and Ireland — working and studying in Scotland today, I am intensely, viscerally interested in what Scottish independence may mean for decolonization of indigenous peoples’ lives in both Canada and abroad.
It is no secret that Canada is, in many ways, one of the first iterations of Scottish independence. A recent museum exhibit at Aberdeen University explored the Scottish Diaspora to Canada, and the organizers went so far as to mount a Pioneer Day to celebrate the exciting lives that Scots migrants lived once they crossed the Atlantic and settled the Empty West. A conference to be held at the City Chambers in Glasgow in January 2015 plans to explore Sir John A. Macdonald’s role as “Son of Glasgow, Father of Canada.” There is a palpable, proud relationship that many Scots share over the links between Canada and Caledonia in the past and present. Some could even argue the Scots have more than proven their ability to run a country by the very founding of Canada in 1867 by Glasgow’s lost son.
However, the impact of Scottish migration and politics on indigenous people in Canada is quietly left out of these enthusiastic discourses. Nowhere is the genocidal role of Macdonald’s Indian residential schools, designed to kill the Indian in the child, brought up in the heroic tales of Scottish creation of the Canadian state. Nor is Macdonald’s racist Indian Act discussed broadly in contemporary Scottish discourses of Scots-Canada kinship. At a Trudeau Foundation Summer Institute in May 2013, Métis author Maria Campbell reminded us that everything that was practised on indigenous peoples in Canada by the English was first practised on the Scots and the Irish. Hierarchies of dispossession rarely end well. Margaret Atwood explores the unending recycling of colonial violence that spans the North Atlantic in her evocative 1978 poem Four Small Elegies: Beauharnois 1838, 1977. The English sacking of Québécois homes by Scots volunteers (themselves victims of displacement through the Highland Clearances) in Beauharnois in 1838 prompts Atwood to ask: “Those whose houses were burned/burned houses/Whatever else happens once you start?”
Yes, Scots suffered, but they migrated that suffering to Canada and re-enacted it upon other peoples. The omissions of the recirculations of Scottish dispossession upon populations in Canada are all the more glaring as some pundits in Scotland discuss the independence referendum as a means to a) “decolonize” an indigenous Scotland or b) compare Scottish independence with Quebec sovereignty.
I’m all for independence. I plan to vote “yes” with great enthusiasm Thursday, to stymie the impacts of the failing politics of London Rule and Etonian-led austerity on other parts of the United Kingdom. But I also hope to use this fervent local discourse of Scottish decolonization and anti-oppression as a means to insert a conversation about Scottish complicity in the colonization of Canada’s indigenous people into the Scottish zeitgeist.
What is often forgotten in diasporic narratives is that indigenous knowledge, stories, goods and resources flowed back to the U.K. and other colonial centres. Scottish museums are chock-a-block with pelts, furs, sacred items and other material culture brought back to the Isles by Hudson’s Bay men and their families. Scotland, though suffering from the Highland Clearances and other policies which disadvantaged some Scottish peoples, still benefited materially, economically and intellectually from its engagement with indigenous peoples and nations in Canada.
When I mark that “yes” on my ballot, it won’t be for some benevolent or fuzzy feeling of Scottish-Canadian kinship. It will be for my ancestors who bore the brunt of Scottish and English colonialism and survived all these generations to provide me with the means to return to the heart of the colonial empire to heal the pain of what was wrought upon the nations Britain enthusiastically oppressed.
For me, it will be a loving and audacious act of decolonization within and across nations.
Zoe Todd of Edmonton is a PhD candidate in social anthropology at the University of Aberdeen and is also a 2011 Trudeau Scholar.
One of the big problems with the Québec independence movement has always been its unwillingness to deal with issues of colonialism and decolonisation, even as it took inspiration from anti-colonial movements to cast white, French-speaking Québécois as a colonised people.
It may not have been an entirely false interpretation (an interesting alternative is that they’re neither quite the colonisers nor the colonised, but colonists stuck under a foreign imperial power, being largely complicit in British colonisation efforts while still having a status not entirely unlike that of a colonised people), but it completely obscures the issues of First Nations people while making the white majority of the province the main subjects of decolonisation. Whereas the Québec independence movement was in a situation that should have been one of Canada’s best opportunities for talk and action regarding decolonisation, the mainstream remained completely silent on that issue.
Bit of a digression, but it’s always struck me as the most glaring fault re: the Québec independence movement. Colonialism should be one of the main historical reasons to dislike Canada and to move away from it and its history. It’s the most odious part of its history. And Hell, it is the main historical reason cited for wanting to leave Canada. But it’s always the colonisation of white, French-speaking people, the attempts at cultural assimilation of those people. Which was odious, and which largely succeeded in the rest of Canada (the deliberate and successful repression of the French language in Ontario and Manitoba in the early 20th century is something that many people even here don’t know about, but which motivated early Québec nationalism), but it’s still not, you know, forced relocation, massive theft of land and fucking genocide.
But go figure, our elite doesn’t much want to talk about that.
Here’s a familiar trope: immigrants are industrious and hard-working. Here’s another, opposite trope: First Nations are idle and lazy. And here’s a graph that beautifully calls into question this neat pair of stereotypes.
It turns out that off-reserve First Nations workers and recent immigrants face the same unemployment rate – one that is much higher than that faced by workers born in Canada. As Angella MacEwen, who posted this graph, points out it highlights that “there are systemic barriers that need to be addressed” in the labour market.
On the one hand, there is a gaping disconnect between right-wing rhetoric that extolls immigrants and the actual struggles faced by new immigrants. Indeed, the irony is that the right’s discourse when confronted with reality brings out the systemic barriers rooted in racism better than the facts by themselves.
This systemic racism is at the source of the seeming confirmation of the myth of Indigenous as idle. Idle No More continues to challenge this myth in action. Here is blogger âpihtawikosisân challenging it with deserved exasperation:
I’m not even going to try to find a source that can refute this blatantly racist belief. There’s just too much packed into it. Stop. Stop using anecdotes about some guy you knew once. Stop saying you lived by a reserve and you know it all. Stop saying that our concerns are not legitimate. Stop denying the colonial relationship that has never ended in this country. Stop pretending that colonialism is our fault.
The cynical, lazy response of the purveyors of the industrious/idle tropes is to say, “you can’t win”: lazy or hard-working, any description is bound to be accused of racism. Yet uncovering the similarity of the racism beneath the rhetoric that comes from the confrontation with fact (see chart) is but the first step. The challenge is figuring out the differences, getting to the roots of the structures – their histories and present material roles.
The same structural racism can be parsed through different social and economic functions. First Nations hold claims to the land and resources that undergird Canada’s historically vital resource sectors. They are best-ignored reminders of past appropriation. Immigrants are a future that needs to be tamed, a source of hopeful energy that has to be incorporated into existing economic relations. Indeed, the children of immigrants on average do much better; as this National Post editorial inadvertently states, the treatment of first-generation immigration has an enormous socializing function. First Nations, on the other hand, have suffered generations of treatment as disposable – at the same time, proving time and again that they will actively defy such a fate.
In a different light, jobless recent immigrants and First Nations serve as different types of caution for all workers: there’s always someone waiting to take your place (the industrious) so that you’ll end up in a bad place (the idle). Both are caricatures, but that both of these threats stem from historically oppressed groups only reinforces them.
Of course, neither Indigenous workers nor recent immigrants are a homogenous group and any further analysis has to delve much deeper. Current trends need historical perspective. Generalities need unpacking. For example, as this detailed study points out, First Nations youth (15-24) experienced a smaller growth in unemployment than non-Aboriginal youth in the first four years after the last recession. At the same time, we should be careful even here, not falling into a trap that divides the acceptable “dynamism” of work (that can be low-wage, low-everything) from the dynamism of activation via movement like Idle No More.
In short, general facts can set the stage, debunking the easy answers and stereotypes so often paraded out. The eerily-similar unemployment rates faced by First Nations and recent immigrants put a fine point on how it is that some are called idle and others industrious, how social and economic roles are dispensed and how bigger structures create barriers. Any of these is a topic that goes far beyond one little chart and all require attention.
Gonna cold brew some coffee for K, and we’ll have it before dinner with my parents tomorrow. Not sure if I’m more nervous about the impression they’ll make on him, or the one he’ll make on them. Probably the first one.
I think I found the remedy to most of my health problems. Too bad I can’t see my family doctor until NOVEMBER (wtf?!?). If I’m right, the fix is relatively easy and might even deal with the incredibly poor short term memory I’ve had for the last little while.
“I was twenty-one at the time, about to turn twenty-two. No prospect of graduating soon, and yet no reason to quit school. Caught in the most curiously depressing circumstances. For months I’d been stuck, unable to take one step in any new direction. The world kept moving on; I alone was at a standstill. In the autumn, everything took a desolate cast, the colors swiftly fading before my eyes. The sunlight, the smell of the grass, the faintest patter of rain, everything got on my nerves. How many times did I dream of catching a train at night?”—Haruki Murakami || A Wild Sheep Chase (via socratic-thinker)
My friend’s little sister (21?) is getting married this weekend. It’s a little mindblowing. But more importantly, my gal is coming back to Ontario from Calgary for a little less than a week and on Tuesday we’re gonna do a whirlwind trip to London to visit the other member of our trio. I miss them both so much. It’s going to be worth the gallons of coffee I will have to drink at 5 am on Wednesday morning for work.
Heart burn makes me feel old. We made the absolute best spicy hashbrowns with bacon to go with a massive feta/tomato/spinach omelette yesterday. I finished the leftovers for lunch, followed by coffee, and now I’m distinctly uncomfortable :/
Had suchhhh a wonderful day. After we parted ways this afternoon, le boy finally got his paws on Lumberjanes 2 for me so I can actually read the rest of the ones I have! He also picked up Bodies, which sounds like a wicked time travelling murder mystery that I’m very excited for. Definitely makes up for having to schlep two loads of laundry on the bus to a laundromat.
I kinda want to bleach the ends of my hair and dye them navy blue, since they’re already damaged and I plan to get a haircut just before september anyway. But of course it costs money to do that stuff. -_-“
I’m thinking caregiver stress in light of a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health that finds one in four Americans are stressed in a major way. (And that’s called a “massive underestimate,” by one observer in the trenches.)
United Nations officials are pushing for many of the Central Americans fleeing to the U.S. to be treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict, a designation meant to increase pressure on the United States and Mexico to accept tens of thousands of people currently ineligible for asylum.
Most of the people widely considered to be refugees by the international community are fleeing more traditional political or ethnic conflicts like those in Syria or the Sudan. Central Americans would be among the first modern migrants considered refugees because they are fleeing violence and extortion at the hands of criminal gangs.
The United States has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Central American migrants crossing into its territory, particularly children traveling without any adult guardian. More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended since October. Three-fourths of them are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador and most say they are fleeing pervasive gang violence and crushing poverty.
Immigration experts in the U.S. and Central America say the flow of migrants from Honduras and El Salvador is likely to rise as the two countries experience gang-related violence. Honduras, a primary transit point for U.S.-bound cocaine, has the world’s highest homicide rate for a nation that is not at war. In El Salvador, the end of a truce between street gangs has led to a steep rise in homicides this year.
Violence by criminal organizations spread in recent decades after members of California street gangs were deported to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where they overwhelmed weak and corrupt police forces and seized control of large sections of the countries.