US, Mexico deport thousands of unaccompanied migrant children at risk

The US and Mexican governments are forcibly returning tens of thousands of unaccompanied children seeking safety to countries they have just fled, without adequate screening or protection from the harm they may face upon return, said Amnesty International in the new report released today. Pushed down the path of evil.

As Mexican President López Obrador and US Vice President Harris met this week in Mexico City, they pledged to strengthen the coordination of immigration law enforcement in the region. In reality, this translates into an increase in the interception and forced returns of thousands of unaccompanied children to potential danger in their country of origin. Children represent one in three migrants and asylum-seekers in the region, many of whom have been forced to cross separately from their asylum-seeking families, after being turned away by US border officials.

“The Biden administration summarily dismisses almost all unaccompanied Mexican children within hours of seeking refuge, often without considering the risks they may be exposed to upon return. Likewise, Mexican authorities deport the vast majority of unaccompanied Central American children to their countries of origin – often where they have simply fled threats or violence – even though most have relatives in the United States with them. which they are trying to unite, ”said Erika Guevara. -Rosas, Director of the Americas at Amnesty International. “These are dangerous and unacceptable policies. The United States and Mexico must stop denying unaccompanied children their universal human rights to seek asylum and family unity, no matter where they come from.

The United States and Mexico must stop denying unaccompanied children their universal human rights to seek asylum and family unity, no matter where they come from.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Director of the Americas at Amnesty International

US forcibly returns nearly all unaccompanied Mexican children

Since President Biden took office in January 2021, an estimated 50,000 unaccompanied migrant children have entered the United States in search of safety – many of them are separating from their families stranded in northern Mexico after been refused asylum at the US-Mexico border. According to US officials, about 80 percent of these unaccompanied children attempt to reunite with family members in the United States, and about 20 percent are from Mexico.

The Biden administration continues to immediately return nearly all unaccompanied Mexican children, misusing an anti-trafficking law that allows the United States to quickly repatriate children from Mexico or Canada. This despite President Biden’s promise to stop refusing unaccompanied children, as he has stopped applying to unaccompanied children the Trump-era policy of rejecting all migrants and asylum seekers at the US border. Mexican, on the basis of a spurious public health order under “Title 42” of the American code.

U.S. law requires the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency to screen unaccompanied Mexican children prior to such returns, to ensure they are not trafficked or at risk of being trafficked. suffer harm if they are fired. Yet lawyers, representatives of children’s shelters and child welfare services in Mexico told Amnesty International that the United States still quickly returns almost all unaccompanied Mexican children, even if they are not. safe in Mexico and seek asylum in the United States.

In May 2021, White House deputy press secretary and immigration adviser Vedant Patel bluntly confirmed Biden’s policy to the media: “The current policy for Mexican unaccompanied minors is that they be repatriated.

Mexico forcibly returns most unaccompanied Central American children

Unaccompanied children from Central America have traveled through Mexico to the United States with increasing frequency since 2019, often to flee violence and reunite with families in the United States. In response, Mexican immigration authorities closed the southern border and forcibly returned the vast majority of apprehended children, deporting 90% and 70% of Central American children held in detention in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

In 2021, Mexican immigration authorities launched major operations in northern and southern Mexico to intercept and repatriate unaccompanied children. After such interceptions, child protection authorities take custody of the children – often detaining them in closed shelters – and overwhelmingly determine that the “best interests” of the children are their forcible return to countries of origin. origin they were fleeing.

The Biden administration summarily dismisses nearly all unaccompanied Mexican children within hours of seeking refuge, often ignoring the risks they may be exposed to upon return.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Director of the Americas at Amnesty International

Mexican child protection authorities at the US-Mexico border told Amnesty International that Mexico continues to deport up to 85% of Central American children in some localities. According to national statistics, Mexican authorities have reported the deportation of around half of the unaccompanied Central American children they have detained nationwide so far in 2021. Yet the status of immigration of many children not yet resolved, deportation rates are likely. to climb higher.

Since January 2021, Mexican law has required children to be detained in children’s reception centers rather than in detention centers for migrants. While keeping children in shelters rather than migrant detention centers is positive, those closed shelters have become overcrowded in northern Mexico and processing times have dropped from around 15 days to four months. Children should not be detained, and if they are, it should be as short as possible under conditions that are in their best interests.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Duncan Tucker (Amnesty International Americas): [email protected]

Mariya Parodi (Amnesty International USA): [email protected]

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