TEGUCIGALPA – Some 156 Hondurans have died in 2006 trying to reach the United States to find work, a government official reported this week.
A spokesperson for the Center for Migrant Attention said that eight Hondurans had died in the first 15 days of November, although he did not say where the fatalities occurred.
Many of the deaths this year have reportedly occurred in Mexico, where many emigrants are killed trying to hop onto moving northbound freight trains.
Other deaths took place on U.S. soil, notably in the Arizona desert. The heaviest months for casualties were in March, when 27 died, and in May, when another 22 Honduran emigrants lost their lives, the official said.
Another 25 people were injured, while 10 suffered maimed feet and legs.
In 2005 some 159 Hondurans died attempting to emigrate, and 52 were injured and 24 maimed in various accidents.
According to officials at the Foreign Ministry, a little more than 1 million Hondurans live abroad, mostly in the United States, between legal and undocumented residents.
About 90,000 Hondurans live in the United States under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), granted by the U.S. government after the disaster of Hurricane Mitch at the end of 1998.
Another 52,000 Hondurans are scattered throughout Central America, and some 2,000 in Panama. Authorities also report some 30,000 Hondurans living in Canada and 15,000 in Mexico.
Estimates put the number of Hondurans who try to reach the United States every year at 80,000, but of these about 70,000 are detained in Mexico and deported.
Every year the United States deports an average of 14,000 Hondurans, although in 2005 there were about 19,000 and this year the number could reach as high as 25,000.
Authorities believe that of the 80,000 Hondurans who set out each year in search of the “American Dream,” only about 3,000 are successful.
Most emigrate clandestinely by land.
They cross Guatemala and Mexico, a country that deports some 216 Hondurans every day.Remittances sent home by Hondurans living abroad will amount to some $2.3 billion this year, while in 2005 they were more than $1.5 billion.
These remittances represent about 26% of Honduras’ Goss Domestic Product (GDP), benefiting 20% of Honduran households and indirectly about 30% of the population.