Ian Gordon

Ian Gordon

Copy Editor

When not wrangling copy for the MoJo crew, Ian writes about immigration, sports, and Latin America. His work has appeared in ESPN the Magazine, Wired, and Slate. Got a comment or a tip? Email him: igordon [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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Map: These Are the Places Central American Child Migrants Are Fleeing

| Fri Jun. 27, 2014 3:48 PM EDT

A recently produced infographic from the Department of Homeland Security shows that the majority of unaccompanied children coming to the United States are from some of the most violent and impoverished parts of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The map documents the origins of child migrants apprehended by the Border Patrol from January 1 to May 14. It was made public by Adam Isaacson of the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights organization, and it includes the following analysis about the surge in child migrants:

…Many Guatemalan children come from rural areas, indicating that they are probably seeking economic opportunities in the US. Salvadoran and Honduran children, on the other hand, come from extremely violent regions where they probably perceive the risk of traveling alone to the US preferable to remaining at home.

This echoes what I found in my yearlong investigation into the explosion of unaccompanied child migrants arriving to the United States. As I wrote in the July/August issue of Mother Jones:

Although some have traveled from as far away as Sri Lanka and Tanzania, the bulk are minors from Mexico and from Central America's so-called Northern Triangle—Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, which together account for 74 percent of the surge. Long plagued by instability and unrest, these countries have grown especially dangerous in recent years: Honduras imploded following a military coup in 2009 and now has the world's highest murder rate. El Salvador has the second-highest, despite the 2012 gang truce between Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18. Guatemala, new territory for the Zetas cartel, has the fifth-highest murder rate; meanwhile, the cost of tortillas has doubled as corn prices have skyrocketed due to increased American ethanol production (Guatemala imports half of its corn) and the conversion of farmland to sugarcane and oil palm for biofuel.

Below is a more granular look at where kids are coming from, also produced by DHS. San Pedro Sula, the world's most violent city, was home to the largest number of child migrants caught by the Border Patrol (more than 2,500). Honduras' capital, Tegucigalpa, sent the second-most kids, fewer than 1,000.

 

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Watch: John Oliver Destroys Washington's Racist Football Team Name With New Video

| Mon Jun. 16, 2014 1:10 PM EDT

Last week, a Native American tribe in Northern California ran a new TV ad during the NBA Finals that targeted the racist name of the Washington football team. "Unyielding. Strong. Indomitable," a narrator intones at the end. "Native Americans call themselves many things. The one thing they don't?" The ad then cuts to a picture of a helmet with the team's logo.

On Sunday's Last Week Tonight, John Oliver used President Obama's first visit to American Indian land to segue into the battle over the R-word. "For the average American," he joked, "that ad should tug at 1/16th of your heartstrings and make the rest extremely guilty." But then Oliver & Co. went a step further: They made their own anti-Redskins video. Watch the whole segment here:

This Is Where the Government Houses the Tens of Thousands of Kids Who Get Caught Crossing the Border

| Tue Jun. 3, 2014 5:17 PM EDT

Yesterday, the Obama administration announced that it was creating a multiagency taskforce to oversee the recent surge of unaccompanied child migrants coming primarily from Central America and Mexico. The announcement included plans to move some 600 kids from holding cells at the border to an emergency shelter at Naval Base Ventura County in Southern California.

As the number of unaccompanied children entering the United States has more than doubled since 2011, the Office of Refugee Resettlement—the part of the Department of Health and Human Services charged with caring for unaccompanied minors in US custody—has brought more and more shelters online to accommodate the influx. (Kids are typically housed in these shelters until ORR can reunify kids with US-based family, with whom they stay pending their immigration hearings.) Here's what the increase has looked like:

So where, exactly, are these shelters? Fifty of the 80 shelters in 2013 were in states along the Southwest border; Texas alone had 33 shelters. The rest, however, are spread out throughout the country. As Maria Woltjen, director of the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights, told me in an interview: "Nobody in Chicago knows there are 400 kids detained in our midst. You walk by, and you think it's just an old nursing home, and it's actually all these immigrant kids who are detained inside."

Check out our map of ORR's 2013 shelters, data I obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request:

Mon Nov. 11, 2013 7:00 AM EST
Fri Aug. 9, 2013 6:00 AM EDT
Thu Jul. 18, 2013 3:05 AM EDT
Tue Mar. 5, 2013 6:57 PM EST
Fri Feb. 1, 2013 3:59 PM EST
Sun Dec. 23, 2012 7:11 AM EST
Thu Dec. 22, 2011 7:00 AM EST
Mon Nov. 7, 2011 6:25 PM EST
Tue Oct. 25, 2011 6:00 AM EDT
Wed Oct. 19, 2011 4:43 PM EDT
Wed Aug. 24, 2011 6:00 AM EDT
Mon Aug. 1, 2011 6:17 PM EDT