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Migration mismanaged: The rest of the story

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Jim Thompson

By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

As many of you know, Laura and I are involved in mission work in the western highlands of Guatemala.

We recently received correspondence from one of the missions we support – La Casa de la Paz, The House of Peace. This mission works with mothers with children whose husbands have abandoned them, a common practice in Guatemala. Men abandoning their families has been a societal practice in Guatemala for a long time.

Now, it has a new twist.

Due to the notoriety of the ease of entrance to the United States through our porous southern border, the mission reports that in many of the villages of western Guatemala, there are hardly any men left. They have all gone north, cut off communications with their families, abandoning them.

Those left in the western highlands are children, mothers and the elderly who cannot travel.

But there is more. Now some of the mothers have started to leave, abandoning their children. In one reported case, two sisters, mothers, after being abandoned by their alcoholic husbands have now left for the U.S., leaving nine children with a grandmother who is an alcoholic. This is just one example.

The government of Guatemala has no resources to take care of these problems. The children are left with the oldest ones trying to take care of their siblings. Food is found by rooting through garbage piles.

Spare me the comments from the politicians here concerning the United States welcoming with open arms. The U.S. policies are destroying adults and children in places like Guatemala. How can Guatemala be encouraged to have an honest and democratic government when we are doing this to them? How many other countries are experiencing the same problems solely caused by our politicians?

It is time our politicians start acting like adults. It is time all of us started acting like adults. The matters we consider difficult, or a problem are nothing when compared to conditions in a place like Guatemala.

I’ve stated here before that, for a large portion of the population in places like Guatemala, living under a bridge crossing a U.S. interstate highway would be considered luxurious. No wonder such people are coming here.

Unfortunately, our politicians are telling us these people can meld into our culture and society. They can, but it will take years of training. Some may never learn for when you are used to stealing and day-to-day subsistence living, habits are hard to break.

What’s the solution to all of this? We have to start acting like adults, as I stated earlier. We have to vote like adults and elect adults to every office from dog catcher to president. It is time to get serious.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at


Kay Sweeney (not verified)

11 May 2024

I certainly don't disagree that Guatemalans live under extremely difficult circumstances but the picture of Guatemalans that this article gives is very different from my experience. Fathers' leave families to move North reluctantly to send back support for their families It can in no way be characterized as "abandoning them". I have not seen "Fathers abandoning their families" as a common practice. It does happen much as it does in the U.S. but is the exception. Please stop "othering" people and think you are helping.

Perhaps you go some place other than the western highlands of Guatemala. I have been going there since 2012. has built over 150 houses in Solola district since 2005. Most are for mothers with children and no husband. In their culture, it is macho to have 2 or 3 children on each mountaintop and be responsible for none of them. As for the other mission,, it has existed nearly as long and solely ministers to mothers with children and no husbands. I believe they are in 11 villages in the western highlands. Look up both these missions and see if I am wrong.

Jim is helping, whether you think he is or not. I wish people who think they "care" would actually do just 10% of what Jim does to help other people, year in and year out.

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