The Perilous Journey for Central American Migrants Traveling to the US

Authors: Les Armstrong, Allison Bell, and Lan Ha

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In this webpage, we highlight the often violent journey that irregular Central American migrants take to reach the US. We analyze data from a survey conducted by the World Food Programme (WFP) in 2019 and then compare it to news reporting. This approach helps us understand the data's strenghts and limitations and prompt viewers to think critically about the survey's findings.

The data was collected from approximately 5,000 household interviews and over 6,000 web survey responses across three Central American countries: Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. This survey was conducted as part of a joint initiative between WFP and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to better understand the factors in migration.

It is key to remember that this survey was conducted on migrants after their journey which means that the data is likely subject to survival bias.

Irregular migrants experience violence at an alarmingly high rate

According to the survey, about 1 in 4 of the irregular migrants surveyed suffered some form of violence during their journey.
Here "irregular" migration refers to migration not following regular migration pathways such as through the use of visas, foreign residence permits, or those seeking asylum.

Migrants reporting violence

Rate of reported violence: 25.38%

Hover over icons to see more detail on the types of violence individuals in this dataset experienced.