Washington, DC – Following news reports that some within the Biden Administration have proposed asking Mexico to take steps that would stem the flow of immigrants crossing the U.S. southern border, including unaccompanied children, Kids in Need of Defense President Wendy Young issued the following statement:
“The Biden Administration’s commitment to work with leaders in Central America to address the serious problems that drive migration is an essential step, but it is a pledge that will take both time and sustained leadership to fulfill. Our nation’s commitment to protecting children and other migrants fleeing widespread violence, trafficking, abuse, and other life-threatening dangers cannot be put on the back burner while a root causes strategy takes shape. Steps to block children and other refugees from safely passing through Mexico during their migration journey is inconsistent with the administration’s stated commitment to reestablishing the United States as a leader in human rights and refugee protection. We urge the administration to abandon any proposals that run counter to those ideals, and for Vice President Harris to make that stance clear during her interactions with officials in Mexico.”
In Mexico, unaccompanied children face barriers to protection, such as the limited capacity of Mexico’s asylum system and lack of access to child-friendly information on how to seek asylum. With increased immigration enforcement at Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala, unaccompanied children are more likely to seek alternative routes to try to evade authorities, leaving them vulnerable to trafficking, kidnappings, extortion, and sexual and physical assault.
A majority of unaccompanied children who encounter Mexican authorities will be deported without consideration of their best interests, counter to Mexican law. Mexico continues to hold unaccompanied children in detention-like settings.
Earlier this week, KIND noted that the United States should support Mexico’s efforts to implement recently enacted child welfare laws that require Mexican government authorities to address the best interests of migrant children, including housing them in child appropriate shelters or alternative care, rather than immigration detention.
For more information or to speak with a member of KIND’s team, please contact Megan McKenna.
Media Contact: Megan McKenna, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-631-9990