WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

Child and Family Migration: From its Roots in Central America, through Mexico and the Border, to the U.S. Response

Rather than turning to xenophobia and discrimination, the United States needs to adopt a humanitarian response to the needs of those fleeing for their lives and seeking protection, as well as address the root causes of migration.

WOLA is focused on the human impact of U.S. border policies and proposing sound, fact-based analyses, alternatives, and advocacy strategies. This series looks at the latest data on Central America migration, at why children and families are migrating in such large numbers, at the problems and abuse they encounter on their journey through Mexico, and at the treatment they receive in the United States. Each piece contains a series of policy recommendations, meant to address migration in more humane ways and to approach the underlying issues that are driving Central American migration. More than that, the series seeks to remind us all that the Central American children and families and other migrants arriving at our border are human beings facing difficult situations at home and in their journeys, and that they should command dignity and our compassion.

Migration Patterns in 2016: A Look at the Numbers

By Adam Isacson

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Why People are Leaving Central America’s Northern Triangle

By Adriana Beltrán

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Migrants in Transit Face Crimes and Human Rights Abuses in Mexico

By Maureen Meyer

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What Happens to Children and Families when they arrive in the United States?

By Geoff Ramsey and Maureen Meyer

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U.S.-Mexico Border Requires Evidence-Based Humanitarian Solutions

WOLA Report

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Hear their voices

Every year, thousands of Central Americans flee alarming levels of violence. But when they reach Mexico, U.S.-supported policies mean they are often deported back to the same dangers they fled from. These videos document the human cost of Mexico’s migration enforcement policies.


“Karla” was stabbed twice after refusing to work for a local gang in Honduras. She felt her life was at risk and decided to flee. During her grueling journey through the harsh terrain of Mexico, she was sexually assaulted. She was detained by Mexican migration authorities and recounts being quickly deported without the option to seek protection.


“Gabriela” fled Honduras after being attacked by a local gang. On her journey through Mexico her group was stopped by armed men who robbed and murdered many of those who were traveling with her. She managed to escape and was intercepted by migration officials, but Gabriela was deported along with thousands of others.

Understand the data