Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

UCSD Professor: Violence Main Cause Of Child Immigrant Crisis

UC San Diego Professor Says Violence, Not DACA, Behind Child Immigrant Crisis


Tom Wong, Assistant Professor of Political Science, UC San Diego

Lilia Velasquez, Immigration Attorney


The humanitarian crisis of thousands of unaccompanied minors and young families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has been overshadowed largely by the political controversy it's raised.

Photo credit: UC San Diego

Tom Wong, UC San Diego assistant professor of political science

President Barack Obama has used the issue to criticize Congress for not moving forward on immigration reform. Republicans have blasted the president, claiming he caused the crisis by issuing his executive order on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, in 2012.

The 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act has also been placed at center of the current increase in unaccompanied minors.


Statistical Analysis On Child Immigrant Crisis

Statistical Analysis On Child Immigrant Crisis

Statistical Analysis Shows that Violence, Not U.S. Immigration Policies, Is Behind the Surge of Unaccompanied Children Crossing the Border

Download document

To view PDF files, download Acrobat Reader.

UC San Diego Assistant Political Science Professor Tom Wong has done a statistical analysis of the unaccompanied children crisis. His analysis supports the theory that the increase in unaccompanied children coming from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador results from violence in their home countries, and not administration policies.

Wong looked at homicide rates and coupled the data with that of the number of children arriving to the U.S. each year.

According to Wong's analysis:

Violence is among of the main drivers causing the increase. Whereas Central American countries that are experiencing high levels of violence have seen thousands of children flee, others with lower levels of violence are not facing the same outflow. This trend holds even when accounting for poverty and distance to the United States.

By contrast, the evidence does not support the argument that DACA, the TVPRA, or lax border enforcement has caused the increase in children fleeing to the United States.

Wong concludes:

...if DACA were in fact incentivizing the flow of unaccompanied children, Nicaraguans and Panamanians would feel this just as Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Hondurans, which would mean dramatic upticks across the board. However, this is clearly not the case.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.