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Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on illegal migration: In short, it’s a crisis

July 24th, 2014
04:16 PM ET

By Henry Hullah

Juan Orlando Hernandez is a relatively new leader of his nation - his tenure began just six months ago - but already he is facing a problem that has received huge international attention: the exodus of civilians emigrating from Central America to the U.S.

Amanpour asked the President how migration became a crisis in his country.

"This problem got out of proportion from a year ago and this has surprised us. The causes are multiple. One of them is the violence caused by drug trafficking, poverty, of course, the lack of opportunities. But, for us, this is an enormous challenge."

Hernandez is set to speak to U.S. President Barack Obama about the immigration crisis this week. Amanpour asked what he would say:

"The crime that comes from drugs, the violence, the lack of security that comes from Central America has a cost for the United States, it's not a benefit," President Hernandez said. "In short, it's a crisis for Central America and it's a crisis for the U.S., so let's work together to solve it."

The Central American President has taken measures to prevent children making the perilous journey alone; he has ordered that bus tickets not be sold to minors travelling alone, and there is now a special police force to help tackle the problem.

For the ones that do make it to the United States there is no guarantee of sanctuary. Hondurans are flown from U.S. detention facilities back to the lives they were trying to escape in Central America.

Amanpour asked what the President Hernandez will say about the problem of unaccompanied immigrant children when he meets his American counterpart.

"They are human beings Christiane, they are human beings who are vulnerable," he told Amanpour.

"I will continue to request respect for the primary interests of the children, their basic interests, but if a family comes that doesn't have any other family in the U.S. and the law doesn't protect them it is our duty to receive them when they return to Honduras."

President Hernandez is also attempting to publicize the dangers of illegal immigration in Central America, where he has set in motion a media campaign to show the plight of the immigrants at risk.

"I believe all Hondurans, all Central Americans, watching must know what they're exposed to."

He told Amanpour that "young girls, 13-year-olds" are preyed upon by human smugglers.

"The coyotes are the human smugglers. They give [the girls] birth control pills because most of them are going to be sexually abused."

The migration problem facing Central America can seem "enormous" but the Honduran leader has clear vision of what he believes is the answer: unity.

"We have to work together," President Hernandez said, "Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, and the U.S."


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Honduras • Immigration • Latest Episode
soundoff (3 Responses)
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    The journalist kidnapped by pro-western Kiev junta was tortured.

    July 25, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  2. ashok

    The human tragedy is real, but the United States cannot be a limitless sponge for the world's – especially its neighbours' – problems. One option that should be seriously thought of is well regulated guest worker programme that meets America's needs for low cost labour and affords workers from poor countries an opportunity to spend their productive years working for fair wages, with dignity and without exploitation. Citizenship would be no part of the deal.

    July 27, 2014 at 5:30 am | Reply
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