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One independent study by Doctors Without Borders found that 68% of migrants treated had been the victim of violence during their transit through Mexico, and the US Fund for UNICEF reported that "thousands of children from Central America risk being kidnapped, trafficked, raped, or killed" on their journey away from gang violence and poverty in their home countries.
Mexico: Mexicans remain the largest origin group among illegal immigrants, but their overall percentage of the total number of illegal immigrants has been declining since 2007, when they accounted for 57% of the total. In 2016 they made up just about half . Various factors drive illegal immigration by Mexicans: poverty numbers in Mexico are estimated by the CIA at about 46% of the population, high crime rates are fueling drug and gang-related violence, and 2017 was the most murderous year on record.
Central American countries account for about 50% of illegal immigrants, including the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Crime is so rampant there that the State Department has issued an advisory against traveling to any of these countries.
Honduras: 30% of the population in Honduras lives in poverty, and the population is plagued by "alarming levels of crime and violence." It is a prime transit point for the "smuggling of arms, drugs, and people" and governance structures are weak. With 55% of Hondurans living in cities, illegal immigrants from Honduras tend to come from urban centers which are gripped by gang violence. Gender-based violence against women is also a real issue, with one report indicating that it is the second-leading cause of death for women of reproductive age.
Guatemala: With the largest population in Central America -- around 15 million people -- Guatemala also faces high levels of violence. The State Department notes that Guatemalans are gripped by "endemic poverty, food insecurity, severe violence, citizen insecurity." USAID estimates that one of every two children under the age of five are chronically malnourished and reports publicly that Guatemala is a transit country for human traffickers, drugs, and contraband. Homicide rates have remained above 34 per 100,000 for the past decade.
El Salvador: El Salvador became the most violent country not at war in 2015. Gangs like MS-13 are responsible for much of the violence. Today, El Salvador's astronomical homicide rate is 11 times higher than that of the United States. The US State Department notes that "endemic crime, corruption, and impunity threaten El Salvador's progress."
Combine all of that with the fact that the immigration process is highly expensive, take a very long time, and is bloated... no wonder...
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