Despite the illegal immigration situation being a constant headline all over American news networks, not many sources have spoken about the perspective of the immigrants who are willing to explain why they are willing to risk their lives and take on massive debts in order to start a new life in the United States. Those who work agricultural jobs all over Central American countries have spoken out about how crops have failed in the past years, leaving their families on the verge of starvation due to farms having to reduce wages to just $4 per day. Many fathers of these families insist that if they do not migrate north, their children will continue to suffer. Central America has a reputation for being a melting pot of danger and crime due to the increasing poverty, corruption, and violence throughout the region. Drought, famine issues, and the global climate crisis have played a large role in many families exodus to the United States, as their region’s current condition is no place for families trying to raise children. Farmers have been heavily affected by the late rains and extended droughts as the unforgiving climate has caused unusually dry summers. “Over the past six years, the lack of rainfall has been our biggest problem, causing crops to fail and widespread famine,” explained the climate scientist Edwin Castellanos, the dean of the research institute at Guatemala’s Universidad del Valle. The unexpected climate changes have made the weather very unpredictable, putting farmers in a difficult position when trying to prepare for the upcoming season. Statistics from 2018 show that drought-related crop deficiencies affect one of 10 people in Guatemala, causing large increases in food shortages that left 840,000 people without their needed supply of food, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Guatemala has lost 50% of its forested areas since 1980 due to increased deforestation throughout the country. It’s widely understood that forests mitigate climate change, and the results of the decreasing number of trees are becoming more and more clear as landslides and floods have began to severely damage agricultural land all over the country. Deforestation has become one of the many reasons that Guatemala now have the sixth-highest malnutrition rate in the world with 47% of children within the country suffering from chronic malnourishment, as published by U.S. News & World Report. Families within the country have heard that the quality of life is better nearer to the American border, and although many of their children are in weak states due to the lack of food, they believe the 2,000 mile journey is worth the trek, with one families father stating “I’ve heard people have died on the journey. But maybe there’s no other way.” These families’ stories deserve a level of respect rather than hatred, as most would do whatever they could to give their children a healthy upbringing far from the dangers and hardships they once knew.