Hondurans emigrate primarily for economic reasons, not violence, according to a new survey by a Jesuit-run research and social action center in that country.
The report by the Reflection, Research, and Communication Team (ERIC-SJ as it is known in Spanish) is based on a survey of public perceptions of Honduras' social, political, and economic situation in 2017. ERIC-SJ conducted the survey February 12-22, 2018, with a national sample of 1,584 valid questionnaires, which is representative of all persons over 18 who live in the country. The survey has a sampling error of +/- 2.5 percentage points and a 95 percent confidence level.
Concerning migration, the survey asked the following questions:
- Under the current situation in the country, have you thought or wished to emigrate?
- Has a member of the family emigrated in the last 4 years?
- Could you tell me the reasons why your family member emigrated from the country? (Answered by those who answered the previous question in the affirmative)
- Do you know if an acquaintance, relative, or neighbor has emigrated due to violence?
The report confirmed the economic crisis in Honduras as the main cause for migration. Of the respondents that had a family member who had emigrated in the last four years, 82.9 percent did so due to lack of employment and opportunities to generate an income. Meanwhile, 11.3 percent migrated due to violence and insecurity. In comparison, the 2015 ERIC-SJ survey showed that 77.6 percent migrated for economic reasons and 16.9 percent migrated due to violence.
When respondents were specifically asked about emigration due to violence, they reiterated that violence is not the primary reason for Honduran migration. The survey asked, "Do you know if any acquaintance, relative, or neighbor has emigrated due to violence?" Of those surveyed, 66.8 percent responded that those who had emigrated had not left because of violence. Only 31.3 percent responded in the affirmative, and 1.9 did not know or respond.
The declining relevance of violence as a push-factor may be a result of the decreasing levels of violence in the country. Homicide rates in Honduras have continued to fall since 2012. The number of homicides in Honduras decreased by 24.97 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year.
Moreover, the ERIC-SJ report found that the majority of Hondurans (55.7 percent) has not considered nor wishes to leave the country.
It is critical that U.S. policymakers understand the forces driving migration from Central America so they can appropriately respond to developments like the recent caravan of Central American migrants (composed primarily of Honduran nationals) hoping to use claims of asylum as a means of entering the United States.