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  • Writer's pictureJavier Vega

Future Dreamers? The tragic reality of children immigrants

Updated: Oct 25, 2021

Image: Humanium.

Most children travel with their parents to the U.S. border with Mexico,

only to be left under the care of "coyoteros" who then help them across the border

On October 14, 2021, Border Patrol found two girls, ages 4 and 6, who were trying to cross into the United States through the southern border. The little ones highlight the tragedy of the more than 400,000 minors who have traveled unaccompanied since 2003 and around 3,200 so far this year to the United States.

According to CNN, many of these children, whom the US government calls "unaccompanied minors," request asylum when they arrive because of persecution, gang violence, and other forms of organized crime; in addition to the lack of financial resources their families face.

Families often travel together to the United States with the promise of "coyoteros" to help them cross without complications. However, when they arrive in Northern Mexico, they understand the magnitude of the reality that migrants experience.

In 2019, for example, the Hope Border Institute identified that some parents began to send their children alone once they realized that the American government was returning families back to Mexico, but not minors traveling alone.

Minors who cross the border alone are held in the custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), then transferred to shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in English), where they remain until they are delivered to relatives or patrons in the United States.

"The vast majority of family members are parents or close relatives living in the United States," said an HHS representative during an interview with CNN.

In other words, most unaccompanied minors who come to the United States already have a family member living here. And, as the Migration Policy Institute noted in a 2016 report, "the desire for reunification remains strong."

What happens when they arrive?

The Department of Homeland Security indicates in its statistics that the vast majority of children who have traveled to the United States unaccompanied from Latin America remain in the country.

According to their data, of the 290,000 children in this group who crossed the border since 2014, 4.3% were returned to their countries of origin and 28% received protection from the US courts.

Of the remaining 68%, their cases remained unsolved: 16% had been ordered to leave, but had not yet been deported or confirmed their departure, and 52% of their cases were still in process. This means a delay in the courts to resolve deportation cases.

Many of the minors have to spend nights in immigration centers, often sleeping on makeshift mattresses, causing negative reactions from international organizations that have described these spaces as "prisons" due to their current conditions.

These types of children's centers were harshly criticized during the Trump administration and continue to cause a stir during the current Biden presidency due to the lack of preventive measures against COVID-19 due to overcrowding.

Imagen: Diario El Universo, EC.

Detention centers are overwhelmed because

of the amount of children arriving daily illegally to the United States.

The reality of those who travel alone

Images: Flicker, Getty Images and CNN.

This three cases brought to the attention

the grim reality of children traveling to the U.S. southern border.

The dramas that minors experience when crossing the border are put in evidence with the individual cases that have come to light in recent months.

Little Wilton Gutiérrez, age 10, was found in April 2021 walking alone through a Texas field. Immigration agents reported that the minor was traveling with a group of migrants, but how he separated from them remains unknown. Authorities reported that the boy is under the care of the United States Department of Health.

During an interview with Univision, the boy's uncle said he hoped to obtain custody of the child in the United States.

Also in March 2021, Mexican authorities identified a four-year-old Honduran boy traveling without the company of relatives or acquaintances near the Rio Grande in Reynosa, northeastern state of Tamaulipas, on the border with the United States,

Due to his "highly vulnerable" condition because of his age and not being under the care and responsibility of an adult, authorities said in a statement, that child protection agencies were notified (CNDH).

Similarly, in April 2021, traffickers threw two Ecuadorian girls, three and five years old, from the fence on the border with Mexico, at a height of approximately four meters. They were later rescued by US Border Patrol agents after being abandoned in the desert by the two smugglers.

And the cases of minors crossing the border alone continue to increase and become more and more dramatic. Border Patrol agents (USBP) found a two-year-old girl and a three-month-old baby abandoned in September 2021 at the Rio Grande border near Eagle Pass in Texas.

Border authorities conducted an exhaustive search in the area and found no other migrants or smugglers to explain how the children got there.

These cases reflect the tragedy of immigration to the United States, highlighting the reality experienced in their time by many of those who are now considered “Dreamers” and seek to benefit from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.

Disclaimer: This article doesn't constitute any legal advice. If you wish to get any legal consultation please contact The Allongo Law Firm.


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