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Central American migrants head north to flee crime, drawn by belief they are allowed to stay

Children and teenagers are flooding out of Central America and heading north to the Texas border, where their crossings in record numbers have sparked a bitter political debate in the United States.

The Obama administration says crime at home is driving the migrants north. Congressional Republicans say the president's policies are leading migrants to believe children and their mothers will be allowed to stay.

Interviews with dozens of migrants indicate both sides are right. A vast majority say they are fleeing gang violence that has reached epidemic levels in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. But the migrants also uniformly say they decided to head north because they have heard the U.S. Border Patrol is required to swiftly release children and their mothers and let them stay in the United States.