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Inside the Northern Triangle: Catholic Charities Monsignor Sullivan Guest on WPIX

catholic charities ny monsignor sullivan in northern triangle
Catholic Charities Monsignor Sullivan, Northern Triangle.
Photo Credit: Fanny Gomez

by John-Mark de Palma

3 Min Read. This week, Marvin Scott of PIX 11 News New York sat down with Catholic Charities Executive Director, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan and embed journalist Christian Benavides on PIX 11 News Closeup to discuss the recent Catholic Charities led fact-finding trip to the Northern Triangle.  "The reality we found is that people don't want to migrate to the United States. We learned that they are forced and driven out because they don't feel like they have any other choice," Monsignor Kevin Sullivan said during the interview with Marvin Scott.

It is estimated that 100,000 migrants sought asylum in the United States this past March. Most of the migrants set out from the Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador -- the area known as the Northern Triangle -- escaping poverty and gang violence. The Catholic Charities delegation sought to understand the issues behind the struggles of the people, going beyond the border discussion and visiting the people in their home countries. 

Plagued by the ubiquitous conditions of poverty and violence, the people of the Northern Triangle have a general lack of confidence that their local governments are capable of addressing both issues. For instance, Honduras and New York City have a similar population size -- approximately 9 million people. Last year, Honduras experienced 8,000 crime related deaths. Compare that with the 289 crime related deaths in New York City in 2018. Part of the issue as Benavidas reports, is that the police are paid low wages that force them to live and raise families in the areas controlled by gangs. “They don’t want to be part of it. They are out policing the streets and come home at night,” Benavidas says, “Just imagine if they are living in one of these neighborhoods and a gang member comes to his home. The police officer is powerless to do anything.” 

Many suggest that the origin of the current crisis in the Northern Triangle began on the gang-controlled streets and prisons of Los Angeles, Calif. The violent behaviors people learned there were brought back to the Northern Triangle. “This is an American problem. Not a problem of the United States at the border. Not a problem of Central America. Not a problem of South America. It’s an American problem, and together we can address the multiple causes and realities,” says Monsignor Sullivan. 

Amid the droughts and crises that are driving people from their lands in El Salvador, “there was a glimpse of hope,” Monsignor Sullivan observed. "In the awfulness people are trying and haven't given up trying to do the best they can...The hope is there.” If we can strengthen our connections between the people of the United States, the people of the Nothern Triangle, and the people of Central America, we can deal with the realities in a united manner. “There is no easy, one-second solution, but there is hope and we need the perseverance to stick to what is working and bring it to scale for the long-term,” said Monsignor Sullivan. 


Related Content: 

PIX11 reporter Christian Benavides' live reports: “Stories from Central America’s Northern Triangle.” 

Trapped in the Triangle: Pix11 to travel to Central America’s Northern Triangle | PIX11 News  

Catholic Charities Fact-Finding Mission Touches Down in Northern Triangle | Catholic Charites New York 

Catholic Charities Heads Delegation to Northern Triangle to Shine Light on Struggle of Thousands | Catholic Charities New York 

Catholic Charities Leads Fact-Finding Trip to Northern Triangle | Catholic Charities of New York