A new poll suggests about 5 million Guatemalans want to migrate north to the United States, or roughly a third of the country’s total population.
The Association for Research and Social Studies worked with the Barometro de las Americas to interview 1,596 Guatemalans between late January and late March, and the results make it clear millions are pondering the trek north.
From the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre, via Google translation:
Despite the United States’ zero tolerance stance and a discourse against undocumented migration, compatriots see the opportunity to advance in the United States, given that they do not succeed here.
According to the survey on democratic culture, 39.2 percent of Guatemalans intend to Migrate and 85 percent said they would do so to the United States. The questionnaire does not reflect why Guatemalans want to migrate to the United States, but most do so because of lack of opportunities, lack of employment and poverty.
However, 57.8 percent say they have friends or relatives in the United States, but only 45 percent communicate with them, while 9.7 percent never do, and 35.6 percent do so rarely.
There are currently over 1 million Guatemalans in the U.S., making them the largest group of illegal immigrants in the country, according to The Washington Examiner.
“More than 16 million people live in Guatemala, which means will over 5 million Guatemalans plan to immigrate to the United States if the survey … is accurate,” the news site reports.
The massive migration is undoubtedly fueled in large part by a constant barrage of ads in the country’s newspapers and radio touting the free stuff in America. KGBT’s Sydney Hernandez spoke with several migrants on the border from Guatemala and Honduras who described the ads, which also offer tips for getting into the country quickly.
#BORDERNEWS Immigrants tell me they’re coming to the U.S. because they’re seeing advertisements on their local newspapers and TV stations, about better opportunities and free help from Americans if they enter illegally. My #Exclusive report straight from the border. #Immigration pic.twitter.com/mpRdg2hes7
— Sydney Hernandez (@SydneyKGBT) April 15, 2019
“They say if we come to the United States we can find work,” one man said.
“Yes, we’ve been told that, we read it on our newspapers,” a man who identified himself as a pastor from Guatemala told Hernandez. “That’s why we’re here.”
“We’ve been told if you are a father you can bring your child and you will be helped here if you’re in that situation,” he said.
Border Patrol officials have confirmed word is out that migrants with children are pushed through the overwhelmed processing system quickly to avoid separating families in detention.
“In 2014, I believe, only one percent was single males with children,” an official told Hernandez. “Now it’s up to 50 percent.”
The situation means children are now rented by coyotes to pose as relatives of men passing through the border, providing yet another service smugglers can offer to exploit America’s broken immigration system, The American Mirror reports.
“The reason they do it is because it’s the easiest way for them to actually come into the country and they’re able to, after being process, they will be let go because of our limited capacity at this time,” a Border Patrol agent told Hernandez.
“You can walk through any of our processing centers and you can see that there are potentially parents, or adults with children, that there may not be a familial relationship,” Del Rio Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz told the Epoch Times.
Yuma Border Patrol Chief Anthony Porvaznik said agents identified 550 fraudulent “family units” in his sector during the first six months of fiscal year 2019 alone.
“We know we’ve missed many, many more, simply because we’re overwhelmed by the sheer numbers,” he told the Times. “And so those are kids that are being rented, for lack of a better word, to an adult to format a fraudulent family unit so that they can be released in the United States and then that child will be recycled back to its country of origin – usually Guatemala, in our case here in Yuma.”