Giving Compass' Take:

· The Migration Policy Institute reports on the growing number of immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. due to violence and political instability in the Northern Triangle.

· How can philanthropists best support immigrants fleeing from violence and instability?

· Read more about abused women seeking refuge in the United States.

Over the past decade, the profile of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border has gradually—yet dramatically—shifted. Starting around 2014, apprehensions of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (known as the Northern Triangle of Central America) began to rise, even as reports suggested more Mexican nationals were leaving the United States than arriving. Today, Northern Triangle migrants make up the majority of Southwest border apprehensions, many turning themselves in to authorities to apply for asylum rather than attempting to cross illegally. Several factors that contribute to instability in the region are pushing people to flee in record numbers, resulting in what have been described as refugee-like flows. Entrenched poverty and a desire to reunify with relatives in the United States are also driving some of the migration.

Women and children have proved to be particularly vulnerable to emergent forms of violence and political instability in the Northern Triangle. Since unaccompanied minors began arriving at the U.S. border in startling numbers in 2014, they have justifiably received ample academic and media attention. Yet, there has been less focus on the gendered experiences of women and girls forced to leave the region. Social norms and legal precedent in Northern Triangle countries routinely allow gender-based crimes to go unpunished, and perpetrators of violence act with impunity. Forced recruitment of females to be the girlfriends of gang members (novias de pandillas) and some of the highest femicide rates in the world have produced patterns of behavior and feelings of personal insecurity that directly contribute to women’s decisions to migrate.

The conditions driving this migration did not emerge overnight, rather they are rooted in systemic political and socioeconomic problems. The civil wars that engulfed the Northern Triangle in the latter half of the 20th century resulted in reduced public trust in government and feelings of personal insecurity—fertile ground for gangs, cartels, and other criminal groups. Government institutions are weak, and their territorial control is challenged by these nonstate actors; public-sector corruption is widespread; economies are stagnant, and inequality high; indigenous people are routinely forced off their land; and citizens’ rights are regularly violated.

Read the full article about immigrants searching for safety by Jeffrey Hallock, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, and Michael Fix at Migration Policy Institute.