Poverty was surely a factor, as no doubt was the mistaken belief that American immigration authorities would not send back unaccompanied children.
But only true terror could have driven kids by the thousands to make the harrowing journey from Honduras to the United States.
“It has to be extreme fear,” says Al Valdez, formerly the supervising investigator of the gang unit at Orange County District Attorney’s Office and presently a professor at the University of California at Irvine.
The terrible irony is that the immediate sources of that terror are fellow Hondurans who once made that same journey only to be deported for having become swept up in two monstrous gangs that rose from the streets of Los Angeles.
The 18th Street Gang was named after the locus of its birth in the Ramparts section. It is also known as the MS-18 and has been nicknamed The Children’s Army because of its predilection for recruiting even kids still in elementary school.
The Mara Salvatrucha gang was formed by refugees from the civil strife in El Salvador during the 1980s and grew to include thousands members from all of Central America. It is also known as MS-13.
Initially, only those gang members who were convicted of serious crimes and served their sentences were deported. A new law in 1996 then mandated the deportation of anybody busted for a crime that carried a year in prison or more, even if the sentence was suspended. A member of the MS-18 or MS-13 needed only to be caught in a petty drug bust or a minor theft to be deported via the unmarked planes of the real-life Con Air, officially known as the Justice Prisoner Alien Transport System run by the U.S. Marshals.
Source: The Daily Beast | Michael Daly