Honduran authorities and a delegation of U.S. lawmakers met in this capital to discuss the structural causes of child immigration, officials said on Sunday.
Honduran government general coordinator Jorge Ramon Hernandez and five U.S. legislators spoke on Saturday evening about how violence and crime have forced hundreds of unaccompanied Honduran children to try and enter the United States, the President’s Office said in a communique.
The U.S. delegation consisted of Congressmen Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Kristi Noem (R-S. Dak.), Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) and Rob Woodall (R-Ga.).
Also participating in the meeting were members of the recently-created Honduran Joint Task Force for Immigrant Children and the U.S. ambassador to Honduras, James Nealon.
Hernandez said that seven of every nine unaccompanied Honduran children who cross the U.S. border come from the “most violent areas of Honduras” and he emphasized that drug trafficking is the “major cause of the violence” being experienced by the Central American country.
He also said, however, that since the task force was created in June, irregular immigration of unaccompanied minors to the United States “has been drastically reduced by some 68 percent.”
Hernandez also urged the U.S. legislators to support Honduras in fighting the structural causes of illegal immigration, with a priority on creating new economic opportunities and jobs for Hondurans and Central Americans in general.
U.S. officials have detained more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors trying to enter the country illegally in recent months, most of them coming from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.