In this time of pandemic, the health crisis situation has brought to light other crises that already existed in the countries of the Central American region. This reality highlighted the same causes by which many compatriots have been forced to leave their homes and migrate, even knowing all the mortal risks that they will confront on the way to the United States, passing through Mexico, the great Central American cemetery of mass graves. The health crisis has already illuminated the impoverishment of households, the instability and informality of salaried jobs, street and institutional violence, violence against women, corruption of the political class, that is, a greater impact on the social fabric of Central American countries. This desperate situation forces families to flee and while on the journey, they are haunted by criminal groups that engage in trafficking.

Deportation, especially the so-called “express deportations,” remains in violation of every migrants human rights of terms of security and integral dignity. Faced with this reality, the Jesuit Migration Network presented data in their recent report indicating that there are 6,500 Salvadorans who have been deported through August of this year (Boletín Movilidad Humana El Salvador Agosto 2020). This bulletin points out the actions that violate the rights of minors: “For this month, one of the problems faced by the shelters in Guatemala was announced, where hundreds of migrant children are sent in accordance with the current policy implemented by the government of Donald Trump, in which migrants are expelled immediately as a measure to prevent the coronavirus.” Also, the data presented in this bulletin on unaccompanied minors is worrying, as it states that, “more than 130 unaccompanied migrant girls, boys and adolescents registered from March to July.” 

Remittances are the central aspect in the life of the migrant, together with family reunification and seeking to improve the quality of life. Remittances have always been important in the budget of the nation. The flow of remittances, as presented by the Central Reserve Bank of El Salvador, indicates that from the figure of $449.5 million that entered in February 2020, has fallen in April to $287.3 million, the lowest data registered since 2017. However, by July 2020, the number of remittances rises again to $553.1 million, higher than the figure registered for November 2019 (https://www.bcr.gob.sv. 17-8- 2020). This increase in family remittances, even in the midst of the pandemic, shows that Salvadoran migrants in the United States are part of the production and development of that nation; second, it says much about the importance of the lives of the relatives who have remained in our countries.

Forced migration continues to be a decision that touches the human limits and the social fabric of a nation. What is outrageous and painful is that this decision to be forced to migrate is not accompanied by care and protection along the way; quite the contrary, it becomes a journey of death that societies and governments have accepted, in the style of a Hollywood “horror movie.”

In these days of Covid-19, the governments of Mexico and the United States have not provided assistance from the right to health and protection to migrants. In Mexico, most of the shelters were forced to close their facilities, and for those who remained open to some degree, it was a difficult situation to maintain bio-care and avoid contagion, as the team of La 72 Migrant Shelter in Tenosique, Tabasco, Mexico has been able to do.

We should ask ourselves as citizens, at what level are we sensitive to the drama of forced migration, which continues to affect the impoverished majorities of our countries. In addition, to those of us who profess faith in Jesus Christ, we are directly challenged by our spirituality and practice of mercy that is specified in working for the construction of a society with justice, equity and solidarity, a society that gives priority to the common good. Franciscans and Franciscan-hearted people, we have an inspirational source in the charism that leads us to be with the least of our brothers and sisters in radical equality that unites us with the all the creatures with whom we inhabit this COMMON HOME.

René Arturo Flores, OFM