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Eric L. Olson, who studies Latin America for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, insisted that violence in Central American countries is the major factor pushing people out of their homes and sending them north. He said his travels to the region suggest that many families face difficult choices: try to work out an agreement with gangs to leave them alone, watch their children either join or be targeted by the gangs, or flee.
 
“It’s not surprising that many decide to flee,” he said.
 
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