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This Central American Country Is Taking Steps to Stop the US Border Surge

The General for the Armed Forces in Honduras Talks About Stemming the Flow of Outward Migration

In recent years, the number of immigrants from Central America to the US has spiked. Those coming from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras jumped by 25% from 2007 to 2015 according to the Pew Research Center.

Experts have pointed to historic homicide rates, gang violence, and poverty in attempting to explain the wave of migration.

And this year, with another surge of migration at the US border, many believe that those from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, also known as the Northern Triangle, are once again to blame.  

But the head of the Honduran Armed Forces, Gen. Rene Orlando Ponce, told CBN News this week that the number of immigrants from Honduras to the US is declining. He said just two percent of those coming over the US Mexico border currently are Honduran. That compares to three percent between 2010 and 2014 according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Ponce said the country has worked hard to improve the quality of life for its people and keep them at home. "We are making progress in making the country safer," he told CBN News while visiting to explore a humanitarian agreement with CBN International.

In fact, the United Nations reports that the homicide rate in Honduras has been cut in half in recent years. It spiked at 91 per 100,000 in 2011 (compared to 5 per 100,000 in the US), but dropped to 42.8 last year.

The former US ambassadors to Panama and Honduras, John D. Feeley and James D. Nealon respectively, also believe US assistance to Honduras has helped to drive down the murder rate and contribute to a better quality of life for a country that has experienced historic levels of crime and instability in the last decade. In a recent Washington Post op-ed piece, the two noted, "The United States and Honduras are working closely together to stem these 'push factors' of migration. A bipartisan consensus in Congress has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance."

Ponce told CBN News the Honduran government is also working to spur employment by investing in tourism and infrastructure to provide jobs.

At the same time, he said he understands the right of people to pursue new opportunities in other countries. "Everyone has the right to try and make a better life for themselves," he said. "They are really believing they can have a better lifestyle in the US."

What's not clear is how the Trump administration's recent decision to terminate the temporary protected status (TPS) of 57,000 Hondurans living in the US could affect migration patterns. All of the immigrants, who've enjoyed legal status in the US since at least 1999, must now return to Honduras by 2020. 

The Center for Migration Studies reports that 85 percent of the immigrants work legally in jobs such as truck drivers, construction workers, gardeners and caregivers for children. 

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