Expert: Gang violence in Central America to blame for spike in illegal immigration

More than 47,000 unaccompanied minors have illegally crossed the border into the U.S. from Mexico so far this year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Almost 75 percent of the children apprehended are from Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador.

Increased violence by gangs involved in the drug trade is one of the main reasons minors give for leaving their home countries.

“Each of these countries are on the corridor of drug trafficking northward from Venezuela and elsewhere in South America,” said Roger Noriega, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “The relatively weak governments in Central America do not have the resources to take on the narcos.”

Noriega blames the U.S. in part for not assisting the region in combating the drug trade and failing to provide packages to help boost local economies. Noriega says these actions could help to decrease the incentive to migrate to the U.S.

“We should be holding more people accountable,” Noriega said. “There should be sanctions against people in the El Salvadoran government who are involved in narco trafficking … and countries like Honduras and Guatemala [provide] security assistance.”

Noreiga, a former U.S. Ambassador to Organization of American States, says the White House should be aware drug cartels are not looking to run from law enforcement, but rather actively support gang-friendly governments.

Watch the full interview with Roger Noriega above.