19 | ENE | 2020
Mexico is deporting more migrant children than ever
Honduran man and his baby at the Mexico-Guatemala border - Photo: Ueslei Marcelino/REUTERS

Mexico is deporting more migrant children than ever

Pedro Villa y Caña y Marisela de la Cruz
Mexico City
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The Mexican government has deported children from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Eritrea, Côte d'Ivoire, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Romania, Iran, and Ghana

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The deportation of underage migrants in Mexico has increased: from the 17,093 child deportations registered in 2017, the number has increased to 18,922 children from January to August 2018; most of them come from the countries from the so-called Central America Northern Triangle, formed by Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, which is also the home of the migrant caravan currently crossing Mexico.

Information provided by the Internal Affairs Ministry (Segob) shows that from the 18,992 deported children during the 2018's first 8 months, 8,792 children came from Guatemala; 7,899 from Honduras; 1,8825 from El Salvador, and 102 from Nicaragua.

And from the rest of the world, 84 children were from Congo; 44 from Angola; 43 from Venezuela; 12 from India; and 9 from Ecuador. Nevertheless, the government also registered the deportation of children from countries such as Eritrea, Côte d'Ivoire, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Romania, Iran, and Ghana.

The official information reveals that 10,042 children were between 12 and 17 years old; 3,922 were accompanied and 6,120 were unaccompanied; meanwhile, 8,950 deported children were between 0 and 11 years old, 8,361 were accompanied and 589 were unaccompanied.

The Segob revealed that the state where more children were presented before the authorities were Chiapas, with 7,507 children; followed by Tabasco, with 2,300 children; and Veracruz and Tamaulipas, with 1,946 and 1,507 respectively.

According to information from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the migrant caravan located in Chiapas is formed by 7,233 people, and 1,307 are girls and 1,070 are boys, that is, one out of every three migrants are underage.

“They don't respect human rights”

Juan Martín Pérez García, executive director of the Children's Rights Network of Mexico (Red por los Derechos de la Infancia en México), said that according to information from the last years, Mexico deports 86% or 90% of detained children and that it doesn't respect their rights to request asylum or refuge, therefore, Mexico detains children in a shelter, depriving them of liberty.

He emphasized that because of their age, the children traveling in the caravan are unprotected, as they're outside their home and in the path of forced displacement. He reminded us that the Mexican government is forced to offer reinforced international protection to the minors, which implies health care, food, the possibility of shelter and the right to request asylum.

“When they are by themselves (the minors), the authorities usually have to intervene and take them to a protection mechanism. The issue is that right now, that is not so easy, because it's a very big caravan, and they are accompanied, supposedly, that is, they're by themselves because they're not accompanied by family, but they're in a caravan, protected,” he said.

Pérez García warned that the children are already suffering effects for participating in the caravan, such as “sunstroke or heat exhaustion, burns, affectations in their diet, a lot of stress, and the risk of being hit by a car or victims or repression.”

Jorge Vidal, program director of Save The Children México, said that it is estimated that there are over 7,000 people at the National Migration Institute and that 28% of them are children and teenagers, who are waiting for their migratory status to be resolved, despite the fact that the Girls, Boys, and Teenagers General Law establishes that they shouldn't be detained.

He said it was difficult to know the exact number of minors in the caravan because that number is unknown even for those who are part of the caravan.

Eunice Rendón, the coordinator of Migrant Agenda (Agenda Migrante), remembers that in the previous caravan “there was a large number of children,” but in the face of a large number of children in the current caravan, it must be emphasized that the children's best interest must be considered, to make sure they're OK, that they're eating and drinking water, and that in case they need a shelter, it is nearby.

In regards to the possibility of them being the target of human trafficking or kidnapped by criminal groups, Pérez García said that “in a strict sense, that risk doesn't exist, because they're in a huge caravan, massive, but as soon as they're out of the caravan, they will, of course, be in danger of victims of any crime.”


14,000 Hondurans are part of the migrant caravan

Help groups located in Esquipulas, Guatemala, are preparing for the arrival of other two large groups of around 3,000 to 4,000 Hondurans, who are looking to reach the Mexican border
14,000 Hondurans are part of the migrant caravan14,000 Hondurans are part of the migrant caravan


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