WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
15 Nov 2016 | Press Release

Children and Families Fleeing Central America Deserve Access to Protection, Not Discrimination and Abuse

WOLA Multimedia Package Assesses Migration Trends, Humanitarian Solutions

Washington DC—The election of Donald J. Trump as the next U.S. president has thrust the issue of migration into the spotlight as he has vowed to prioritize border security and immigration policy during his administration. However, many of the arguments that the Trump campaign made were based on troubling prejudices and faulty information, and the policy proposals that have emerged are gravely flawed.

For the past several years, WOLA (the Washington Office on Latin America) has worked to address the factors that drive people to flee from Central America, the abuses and dangers that they face on their journey north, and to advocate for migrant rights and due process guarantees on the U.S.-Mexico border. Today WOLA is launching a comprehensive multimedia package in an effort to present the facts on migration, and to propose solutions that address the humanitarian issues on the ground.

“This is a moment to look at the facts, not to spout misinformation or inflammatory rhetoric. Overall, migration has fallen to levels not seen since the early 1970s. What we need right now is a humanitarian response to the situation in Central America that recognizes an essential truth: that seeking refuge or asylum is not illegal. It is a fundamental human right,” said Geoff Thale, WOLA Director of Programs.

WOLA’s multimedia series, “Child and Family Migration: From its Roots in Central America, through Mexico and the Border, to the U.S. Response,” shows that overall migration has been decreasing since the 1970s. What has changed is who is arriving. Recent years have seen an increase in families and children coming from Central America, many fleeing threats and persecution.

The multimedia package looks at the latest data on Central America migration, and presents a series of infographics assessing recent trends. It also explores why children and families are migrating, as well as Mexico’s crackdown on migration at the expense of due process. Each section contains concrete policy recommendations.

WOLA has also prepared a video series about the vulnerability of Central American migrants and the threats that they are fleeing. The first two videos feature powerful interviews with children—“Karla” and “Gabriela”—who were deported from Mexico, describing their experiences living through the ordeal and the threats they were attempting to leave behind. The third video documents how many migrants, including minors, become the victims of serious crimes in Mexico.

“This is not a hypothetical debate about an abstract issue. These are real human beings, who in many cases are fleeing threats to their lives and the lives of their children. We cannot stand by and continue to let them face deadly conditions in Central America, fall prey to crime and human rights abuses on their journey through Mexico, and then respond with policies that fail to provide due process and access to legal protections,” said Thale.


In an attempt to elevate these migrants’ voices, WOLA encourages news organizations to share the series’ video testimony, and invites online media to embed our video and infographics on their pages.