Mexican Migrant Children Forgotten at the Border
January 22nd, 2015
Border Patrol and Mexican Authorities Fail to Screen and Protect Mexican Migrant Children
Last year, the issue of Central American children fleeing violence made headlines in the United States. But unlike unaccompanied minors from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, Mexican children fleeing violence rarely get an opportunity to tell their story before an immigration judge. The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) has released an investigative video and report on the treatment of unaccompanied Mexican migrant children detained at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Every year, U.S. Border Patrol apprehends approximately 15,000 unaccompanied Mexican children. According to a 2014 report by the United Nations Refugee Agency, nearly 60 percent of unaccompanied Mexican minors surveyed mentioned violence as one reason for leaving home. But in 2013, less than 5 percent were transferred to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement to be screened and later granted an immigration hearing.
Through interviews with migrant children, Border Patrol officials, Mexican authorities, and experts, WOLA’s video “Forgotten at the Border” demonstrates the plight of Mexican children who migrate to the United States in an attempt to escape violence. Unless these children can prove to a Border Patrol agent that they face a credible risk of persecution or trafficking, they are sent right back home.
WOLA’s video highlights the stories of minors like Esteban, a 17-year-old who describes fleeing from a local cartel, crossing the Arizona border, and being deported by Border Patrol. The video is accompanied by an investigative report, as well as recommendations for the U.S. and Mexican governments to better protect and screen unaccompanied Mexican children.