Protecting Children in Central America and Mexico
With the challenge of an unprecedented number of unaccompanied children coming to the U.S., we have an historic opportunity to enhance awareness of child migration and to promote regional standards and joint action for the protection of children on the move.
- KIND is expanding its work in Central America and Mexico to protect children’s rights and safety before, during and after migration.
- Children migrating alone throughout Central America, Mexico, and into the United States have largely been an invisible population. Their need for protection and the root causes of their flight have not been addressed nor been a priority in policy regarding migrants in the region.
- KIND is working to change that and to help significantly expand protection of these children throughout their migration, including upon their return to their home countries via deportation or other means.
Our work focuses on:
- promoting children’s development, well-being and future success in their home countries so that migration is seen as a choice and not a necessity
- the creation and implementation of protocols to ensure protection in transit countries
- access to fair procedures to determine a child’s right to remain in receiving countries
- the promotion of comprehensive return and reintegration strategies that both protect returning children and provide alternatives to their future remigration through services that support family reunification and safety.
Building and maintaining durable partnerships will be a key element in advancing the project goals of this ambitious initiative.
Child Migrant Return & Reintegration Project (CMRRP)
While many unaccompanied children have viable claims for US protection, KIND recognizes that a number of others do not and that they must return to their home countries. Unfortunately, no formal system exists for these children to ensure that they return safely and to address the conditions that caused them to make the dangerous journey to the United States alone. These conditions often remain unchanged upon the child’s return.
In 2010, KIND, The Global Fund for Children (GFC), and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Guatemala launched the Guatemalan Child Return and Reintegration Project (GCRRP) to help Guatemalan unaccompanied children returning home due to a deportation or voluntary departure order from the U.S. KIND and its partners have helped children by ensuring they are returned to their communities safely and receive reintegration support such as family reunification, skills training, counseling, and help with school enrollment and scholarships. In 2016, KIND expanded this work to include children returning to Honduras.
KIND is expanding this work to include a focus on sexual and gender-based violence survivors, including returnees from Mexico, and informing advocacy for the protection of child migrants. Through the direct support components of the project, KIND is conducting a comprehensive assessment of the prevalence and forms of sexual and gender-based violence experienced by unaccompanied Central American children on the move in Guatemala and Mexico.
Who is Eligible?
Guatemalan and Honduran children who have chosen to return home, who have taken voluntary departure, or who have been ordered deported are eligible to participate in the project. Returning children are identified and referred to CMRRP through KIND’s pro bono legal services network, and through partnerships with other organizations throughout the country. Participation in CMRRP is voluntary and CMRRP staff works closely with each child to ensure his/her involvement throughout the different stages of the return and reintegration process. For questions about the CMRRP or to refer a child to the project, please contact:
Emily Kephart: (443) 294-3178
Refer a Minor
Referrals can be made as soon as a minor receives or decides to pursue voluntary departure, or receives a removal order from the Immigration Court. Referrals should be made at least 5 business days prior to the child’s departure.
To refer a minor to KIND’s Child Migrant Return & Reintegration Project please be sure the minor meets the referral criteria. Review the project with the minor, and obtain authorization to share their information with KIND. Click the button below to access the on-line referral form.
Please be ready to upload the follwing documents prior to submitting your referral:
- Signed Consent and Authorization Form (required); Download form here
- Minor’s birth certificate (required)
- Other supporting documentation (immigration court orders, travel documents, educational records
Sexual and gender-based violence initiative
KIND is launching a new project to help address the unique protection needs of unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in transit in Guatemala and Mexico.
Amid national attention to a surge in unaccompanied children who came to the United States in 2014 to seek safety, a vitally important fact was often passed over: that significantly more girls were coming alone than ever before and that many of them were survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). About 40 percent of the children coming alone to the U.S. at the peak of the migration were girls — up from an average of about 25 percent pre-surge — despite the fact that most knew that the chances were high that they would be sexually assaulted or raped on their journey. Many were already fleeing sexual violence in their homes or communities from which they could not escape.
There is little understanding of the prevalence of SGBV among immigrant and refugee girls and its many manifestations, without which effective programming cannot be created. Many girls are fleeing intimate partner violence in the home country, gang-related violence, rape, sexual assault, and physical assault along the migration route.
KIND will assess the incidence of SGBV and other violence suffered by these children, and use the information gathered to raise visibility of the issue, identify solutions and best practices, encourage programming about SGBV, and serve as a basis for improved systemic protection of child survivors of SGBV. The assessment will also help make resources available for SGBV survivors and identify gaps in resources available in origin, transit and destination countries in the region.
Neither Security nor Justice
In May, KIND released a new report identifying sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) as a significant factor in driving girls, women, and LGBTI people to flee Central America. The increasing violence perpetrated by gangs in Central America includes widespread use of SGBV to exert and maintain control over populations and territories where they operate. Near total impunity perpetuates this violence against girls and women. The report, Neither Security nor Justice, which draws on interviews with migrant children from Central America and KIND child clients’ case documentation, describes the many ways in which girls and women are targeted by gangs in their neighborhoods and communities.
Central American Minors (CAM) Program
KIND has been working closely with Arnold & Porter LLP to coordinate pro bono support for children seeking refugee protection through the Central American Minors (CAM) program in partnership with 15 Central American law firms, Microsoft, and three local NGOs. In 2016, KIND’s CAM Pro Bono Initiative:
• Connected our civil society partners in Honduras and El Salvador to leading law firms in those countries
• Provided, through our local partners, legal orientation, case preparation, referrals to social service providers, safety planning, and temporary shelter services to children with pending CAM claims
• Trained US Citizenship and Immigration Services Refugee Officers who adjudicate CAM refugee claims on best practices for interviewing Central American children and youth
In-Country Resettlement Processing
KIND is also advocating for robust in-country refugee resettlement processing in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to provide unaccompanied children with a viable alternative to the dangerous journey that they are currently making to the United States in search of safety. The project will lay the groundwork to support such processing by providing pro bono legal counsel to these children in their country of origin.