EDIT: Thanks so much for joining the AMA. I hope I answered your questions and sorry for those I couldn't get to. Please follow me at @ckahn [http://twitter.com/ckahn] on Twitter. I just started a new Facebook page. [http://facebook.com/carriejkahn]. And I am starting a new blog on Tumblr; [http://nprckahn.tumblr.com]. Let me know what you would like to see on the blog or my FB page. Thanks again! Saludos, Carrie

I’ve been covering the migration of Central Americans to the U.S. and how they are treated, detained and deported by the Mexican government and other actors in the region.

Here are some recent stories I’ve done:

[http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/09/12/347747148/mexican-crackdown-slows-central-american-immigration-to-u-s] (Mexican Crackdown Slows Central American Immigration To U.S.)

[http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/08/01/337157558/as-flow-of-migrants-into-mexico-grows-so-do-claims-of-abuse] (As Flow Of Migrants Into Mexico Grows, So Do Claims Of Abuse)

[http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/07/03/328107109/deportation-threat-doesnt-diminish-young-migrants-u-s-hopes] (Deportation Threat Doesn't Diminish Young Migrants' U.S. Hopes)

My proof: https://twitter.com/ckahn/status/517386573357543426

Comments: 62 • Responses: 20  • Date: 

GirlOnInternet5 karma

Thank you for coming to talk with us! I'm a huge NPR fan.

How can Americans help immigrants from our southern neighbors? Do we work with our members of Congress to help pass certain legislation? Are there nonprofits within our borders and in other countries to which we can donate money and aid? Is there anything else we can do?

carriekahn3 karma

There are lots of non-profits along the border and groups that lobby Congress. Guidestar is a good place to start for ratings of US charities.

PierceHawthorneWipes5 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA! Ironically enough, earlier today I listened to a TAL episode about a woman in Mexico taking justice into her own hands against bus drivers who had been raping and murdering women. The description of the justice was sickening, and I was shocked by the actions of the authorities. At the end of the episode, the woman who they interviewed said the real problem was that the Mexican people "had no balls." So, a few questions: how bad is the Mexican justice in reference to the rest of the world? Has their be any significant public outcry for reform? And what part does this play in pushing people to leave Mexico? Also, and I realize that I am asking a lot of questions, so I apologize, but could you also answer those questions specifically in regards to women?

carriekahn8 karma

wow....great questions. Thanks! I didn't hear that TAL, I'll definitely go back and listen, but I am familiar with that story. Mexico's judicial system is quite concerning. Justice is not equalitarian and incredibly slow. If I could recommend, there was an incredible movie in Mexico a few years ago that documented one man's judicial nightmare. It's called Presumed Guilty and think it is out in English. I would not dare to compare Mexico with the rest of the world, but I can say it is woeful need of reform. There is an amazing effort to reform the Mexican judicial system now, especially with regard to its trials and prosecutions. USAID is funding and giving much professional assistance to this effort. They want to transform the "accusatory" nature of trials to a more open one.

PierceHawthorneWipes3 karma

Thank you for answering! I'll will definitely check out that movie, and keep up the great work. You are seriously one of the most impressive and under-appreciated journalists out there.

carriekahn4 karma


Iamanentrepreneur5 karma

Do you think that your time in the diverse Los Angeles culture helped you further your work in Mexico? Also, what have been some of the biggest lessons you've learned while working & traveling through Central America, Europe and the Middle East? (it can be lessons from people, lessons in life, etc.)

carriekahn5 karma

I guess the biggest lesson is that EVERYONE has a story. Living in Los Angeles was great and definitely helpful, I grew up there so it's in my blood.

Frajer4 karma

What do you find is the primary motivator for immigration ?

carriekahn3 karma

Thanks for joining! immigration from where? Central America? I think if I'd have to pick one it is still economic reasons, incredible poverty.

shannon25fly4 karma

How do you think Obama’s approval to allow Central American kids to claim refugee status in their own countries will change the flow of migration?

carriekahn2 karma

That's a great question and will be very interesting to follow-up on. I'm anxious to see. I can tell you that there a flood of Central American immigrants in Mexico asking for refugee status. Mexico's acceptance rate is extremely low and many are left in Southern Mexico in dire economic and vulnerable circumstances. So it will be interesting to see if this alleviates or exacerbates their plight.

pokeaotic3 karma

Out of all the places you have visited for your work, which ones stand out the most in your memory and why?

carriekahn6 karma

Thanks for joining. If I could only pick one I would say Haiti. I was there covering the earthquake and continued to travel there for the next two years. If I could sneak in one more .... I just got back from Nicaragua and it was fascinating. I hadn't been there since the war years in the late 19-90s and it was amazing to see the changes and some of the aspects that haven't changed

pokeaotic2 karma

Thanks for your answer! :)

I knew you had returned to Haiti a couple times. If you want to expand on the second part of your answer, what hasn't changed? Have there been any positive changes that you observed?

carriekahn3 karma

Hmmm...definitely the majority were positive. When I was there Nicaragua was in the midst of the U-S backed Contra war. And it was still trying to rebuild from the devastating earthquake, the Revolution and the ongoing violence. These days there is much more development and economic activity for sure. That is very positive. And Nicaragua's economic growth figures are very impressive for the region. On average for the past four years about 5 percent. No other country, including the economic powerhouse Mexico can say that. AND Nicaragua has much less violence than its neighbors to the north. I really felt safe and enjoyed talked to people and traveling through the country. But, and there is always a but, there is much concern about the increasingly closed and authoritarian rule of the President Daniel Ortega.

pokeaotic2 karma

Thank you so much for answering both my questions! That's all I've got for now.

Nicaragua sure sounds like a fun place to visit.

carriekahn3 karma

They have AMAZING beaches and it's cheap and the people are incredibly friendly. I met a few tourists. You have to be rugged and patient though!

pokeaotic1 karma

How would an English-only speaker do there, in your opinion? I'd be hesitant to go if I knew I'd be restricted to only the most touristy parts of town.

carriekahn1 karma

It's Nicaragua, there really aren't that many touristy parts of town. I met some tourists last month from San Francisco and they didn't really speak Spanish. They had a great time. The wife did a bit, but the husband, NADA. They said it was tricky in some places. Suerte!

mjnsweetness2 karma

I'm curious to know what stops immigration from just sending them back over the border into Mexico again? I know not everyone who crosses gets to stay, so I guess I'd like to know; who decides who stays and who goes?

carriekahn3 karma

Are you asking about the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement? Central Americans deported from the U.S. are flown back to their respective countries, they are not deported back to Mexico. Despite the distance, many do attempt again.

mjnsweetness1 karma

Yes, my apologies, I did not mean Mexico. In terms of children, do they have different rights than adults once they cross the border into the U.S.?

carriekahn1 karma

Yes, children from Central America must get a full vetting my U-S immigration officials before being deported. That is why there is such a backlog in the U.S. immigration courts and back-up of detainees.

hpcisco79652 karma

Carrie, do you think that your name fits with the unspoken naming convention for NPR correspondents? You have the alliteration but I'm wondering if you've ever considered adding another syllable or two?

carriekahn2 karma

Ha! I never made it into the cool names of NPR list before. That's my birth name. I have a middle name, but I've never liked it and won't even divulge it here. I could add my married name, but I can barely pronounce it so I'll stick with Carrie Kahn! It's easier and shorter!

SpiritoftheTunA1 karma

do you have any concrete and seemingly implementable policy ideas in mind for making life easier / less unjust for people in general?

carriekahn1 karma

More chocolate for everyone! That's a BIG question. My daughter has told me that when she grows up she wants to be a philosopher. Maybe she'll have the answer for us soon!

not_from_chattanooga1 karma

I've enjoyed your work, Ms Kahn, and find it to be important that you are striving to figure out why these people in Central America are risking their lives to go through Mexico to ultimately end up in the USA.

From what I've read in your articles Nicaragua has not seen the drastic increases in emigrants that Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala have seen (i.e. from there to the USA). What is it that Nicaragua is doing as a state that sets it apart from its neighbors that is keeping Nicaraguans from wanting to risk their lives & emigrate to the USA? Or is it that Nicaragua's economy & crime situation have some modicum of stability that Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala do not?

Sorry if this is wordy.

carriekahn3 karma

It's complicated, but to keep it short I would say that people ARE leaving Nicaragua. Despite the relative security and economic growth, it still is the second poorest in the region, after Honduras. And it has a very different history of immigration to the U.S. than the countries of the Northern Triangle; El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Many Nicaraguans who immigrated to the US did so legally because the US granted them asylum during the US backed Contra war, so there isn't as much family reunification desires that is driving a lot of the immigration. Also, when Nicaraguans leave their country they head south, to Costa Rica and Panama. It is much closer, they don't have to travel as far, the cost is cheaper, and they have familial ties there, more so than in the U.S.

not_from_chattanooga1 karma

Ohhh, fascinating. So Nicaraguans are leaving, but their focus is more upon going south to Costa Rica and Panama. How is Costa Rica handling this influx? Is Costa Rica headed downhill in terms of stability & economy as well?
I imagine that many of the people who came to the USA during Contra war were more wealthy and had political reasons to leave, as opposed to the economic forces pushing people now.

carriekahn2 karma

Yes, the people fleeing Nicaragua at the time were people of wealth, but not all. Costa Rica has its challenges for sure. It is still stable, but is having to combat drug trafficking and traffickers as all countries in the region do. Nicaraguan immigration to Costa Rica is nothing new. It has been going on for decades. I wish I could remember the statistics for the number of Nicaraguans living legally and illegally there. It is sizable. Many go there for work, season and full-time.

17bravo1 karma

Do you that in Tamaulipas, México people say that the Gulf Cartel are sending more kids and adults to cross the border so the border patrol waste time caching the ilegal inmigrants, and the gulf cartel people took this time to smugle drug?

carriekahn1 karma

You never know. The cartels are masters of exploiting all avenues to get their drugs into the country. Did you ever see the 19th century catapult discovered, that was hurling drugs across the border as if it was a castle's moat?

753i1 karma

One other question, there's a lot of talk in the US about first step towards immigration reform is "enforcing the border". What do you think?

carriekahn2 karma

Another BIG question! Oh boy....The border is 2,000+ miles long. Putting an agent every ten feet, building a huge ugly wall, and detaining and deporting hundreds of thousands of immigrants is incredibly costly. And it's not even clear if that work. From what I've seen at the border and its complex terrain, commercial needs and practicality, I don't think it is possible. So let's do something different. Economic investment and development in immigrant sending countries is a start.

RG05111 karma

What lessons have you learned from your work here that you would like to share with future immigrants?

carriekahn1 karma

I'm always learning lessons! What do you mean about sharing with future immigrants? I don't really give advice.

753i0 karma

I teach kids often and one of their "fears" is the children coming to America and joining school with them and learning beside them. i find it disheartening especially since a lot of these children expressing these views are African American whose parents already suffer socioeconomic anguish within their society.

Do you think (as I do) that the mainstream media and politicians in the government have done a good job with the propaganda of fear of these refugees to even our children? What can be done to educate these children and the society in general about the humanitarian needs that these refugees require?

carriekahn1 karma

Sorry to hear that has been your experience. I think education and learning our immigration history is a good place to start.