Updated: Apr 26, 2019
This past week Assemblywoman Carrillo, herself a Salvadoran migrant, accompanied Governor Gavin Newsom on a historic visit to El Salvador where they met with citizens and community leaders to discuss the socioeconomic factors driving thousands of Central American migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border. At age five, along with several family members, Carrillo fled her birth country due to civil war and traveled to the U.S. seeking asylum where she was smuggled across the border. For years, Carrillo lived in the U.S. as an undocumented migrant until she was granted amnesty by President Reagan at age 13, later going on to obtain her U.S. citizenship at age 21. Carrillo says that had it not been for the war in El Salvador, her family would not have left.
Now a representative for northeast Los Angeles, Carrillo has a unique understanding of the drivers of mass migration in Central America. Lack of economic opportunity, a changing environment, and violence are at the top of the list. In California, Salvadorans are the seventh largest immigrant group but when you take into account the current population of El Salvador, the relative number of immigrants is significantly larger.
Despite Trump’s recent decision to cut aid to Central American countries as punishment for not stemming the flow of migrants, California does not expect to see a decline in the number of immigrants seeking asylum. Most of the people migrating from El Salvador do so out of desperation and fear for their lives and the decision to come to the U.S. is their last viable option even if they do so illegally. As Californians and Americans, we should take pride in the fact that our local leadership is willing to go the extra mile to help address the root causes of mass migration while making it clear that we celebrate and welcome the thousands of Salvadorans who have become a vibrant and vital part of our culture.
For further reading: