Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a global fellow at the Wilson Center who has interviewed hundreds of Central American migrants in the field, said that they are primarily motivated to leave their countries by violence and lack of economic opportunities, phenomena which she described as closely connected.
She said these migrant families choose the United States because they often have networks in the country already and know that there are many job opportunities. “There are push and pull factors. The push factors are the lack of economic opportunities and the security problems in their countries. It’s a mix of these conditions. The pull factors are of course the jobs and the families.”
Even with steep drops in the number of recorded murders in the past year, El Salvador and Honduras, the home countries of many migrants, are still among the most dangerous countries in the world. Poverty is hammering away at livelihoods in much of Central America, and for some, the decision to leave is a gamble on a better life.