Why are Central Americans Seeking Asylum in the US?

A two-year-old child from Honduras gets treatment for an ear infection after sleeping in the open in front of the El Chaparral port of entry, in Tijuana, Mexico, Monday, April 30, 2018. About 200 people in a caravan of Central American asylum seekers waited on the Mexican border with San Diego for a second straight day on Monday to turn themselves in to U.S. border inspectors, who said the nation’s busiest crossing facility did not have enough space to accommodate them.
A two-year-old child from Honduras gets treatment for an ear infection after sleeping in the open in front of the El Chaparral port of entry, in Tijuana, Mexico, Monday, April 30, 2018. About 200 people in a caravan of Central American asylum seekers waited on the Mexican border with San Diego for a second straight day on Monday to turn themselves in to U.S. border inspectors, who said the nation's busiest crossing facility did not have enough space to accommodate them. Hans-Maximo Musielik / AP Photo
A two-year-old child from Honduras gets treatment for an ear infection after sleeping in the open in front of the El Chaparral port of entry, in Tijuana, Mexico, Monday, April 30, 2018. About 200 people in a caravan of Central American asylum seekers waited on the Mexican border with San Diego for a second straight day on Monday to turn themselves in to U.S. border inspectors, who said the nation’s busiest crossing facility did not have enough space to accommodate them.
A two-year-old child from Honduras gets treatment for an ear infection after sleeping in the open in front of the El Chaparral port of entry, in Tijuana, Mexico, Monday, April 30, 2018. About 200 people in a caravan of Central American asylum seekers waited on the Mexican border with San Diego for a second straight day on Monday to turn themselves in to U.S. border inspectors, who said the nation's busiest crossing facility did not have enough space to accommodate them. Hans-Maximo Musielik / AP Photo

Why are Central Americans Seeking Asylum in the US?

On Sunday, President Trump tweeted that immigrants who enter into the country should be deported “with no Judges or Court Cases.” In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy to prosecute all people attempting to enter the country outside of a designated point of entry. Since then, controversy has surrounded the mandatory detention and separation of families, the latter of which Trump reversed with an executive order last week.

Most of the migrants that are being detained are asylum seekers from Central America. Nearly three-quarters of all asylum claims are by people who claim a “credible fear” of persecution in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Asylum claims into the U.S. have increased by 1,675 percent since 2007. Some have pointed to the U.S. role in destabilizing these countries in recent years. The U.S. certified the Honduran presidential election last year after the Organization of American States deemed it illegitimate.

To discuss the reasons behind the mass exodus from Central America, we’re joined by Dana Frank, professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Adam Isacson, senior associate for regional security policy at the Washington Office on Latin America.