Editors: Steven Mayers & Jonathan Freedman
According to the Migration Policy Institute, “The number of unaccompanied children crossing the US-Mexico border increased 90 percent between 2013 and 2014.” The total number that crossed the border in 2014 is estimated at between 60-90,000 children. Many of these youth are held indefinitely within detention centers in the United States and sent back to their home countries, where they often face threat of death by gangs, as well as severe poverty.
During the civil wars, all sides committed atrocities. Thousands of refugees fled from Central America seeking asylum in the United States. In an escalating human tragedy many refugee children, who had witnessed massacres and atrocities, were relocated in gang-infested streets of Los Angeles. They developed fierce gangs of their own—18th Street and Salvatrucha—that terrorized the barrios of LA. Hundreds of gang members were deported back to Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. In impoverished homelands, the gangs have grown into full-scaled crime organizations that have kidnapped, blackmailed, killed and taken over neighborhoods, towns and cities.
Solito, Solita (Alone, Alone) aims to shed light on the ongoing abuses that tens of thousands of child migrants from Central America—particularly from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—face every year while attempting to seek refuge from life-threatening conditions in their home countries. From extortion and the dangers they face hopping cargo trains, to their dreams for the future and the realities of their arrivals, we hope to bring to readers the stories of this largely unheard population of young migrants.
Read a Q&A with the editors here.
Jonathan Freedman is a journalist, author, and educator who won the Pulitzer Prize for editorials advocating for justice for undocumented migrants. Steven Mayers is a San Francisco-based educator and researcher who works with migrant communities as an oral historian and English professor.