White House Migration and Root Causes Strategies Lay Groundwork for Comprehensive Reform

July 30, 2021

Washington, DC — Six months after President Biden issued Executive Orders to develop comprehensive strategies addressing regional migration and the drivers of migration from Central America in consultation with partner governments, Members of Congress and their staff, international organizations, civil society organizations, labor unions, and the private sector, the White House released a Collaborative Migration Management Strategy along with a complementary Strategy for Addressing the Root Causes of Migration Central America. Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) President Wendy Young issued the following statement:

These strategies are a welcome step, and we look forward to the challenging work that lies ahead as they are implemented over the months and years to come. KIND applauds the administration on prioritizing the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence in its root causes strategy and including solutions specifically addressing the reasons children and youth migrate. At the same time, KIND urges the administration to prioritize addressing child abuse in its strategy and strengthen child protection systems in the Northern Triangle countries. KIND also welcomes expanding the Central American Minors (CAM) program and the administration’s commitment to support reintegration services specifically for children, including Indigenous children.

The factors that force migration have been exacerbated by natural disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of basic social and health services, gender-based violence, and increased criminal activity. Children facing these threats and forced to migrate alone deserve safe passage. Unfortunately, the Collaborative Migration Management Strategy doubles down on security-based deterrence and public messaging campaigns to discourage migration. Migrants, especially unaccompanied children, should not be treated as threats or told not to seek safety. KIND urges the administration to abandon that approach. The United States must be a leader in working with nations across the region to put in place protections and practices that are rooted in both the law and best interests of the child.

KIND notes that the administration’s Collaborative Migration Management and Root Causes strategies contain other welcome priorities, including:

• Where possible, bolstering regional governments’ asylum systems to provide vulnerable migrants with protection closer to home.
• Increasing access to safe and appropriate education for children and youth and to vocational training and opportunities aligned with job market needs.
• Combatting gang violence and recruitment through creating safe alternative spaces, activities, and support for children and youth.
• Strengthening protection for vulnerable populations, including youth activists, indigenous people, and LGBTQ+ people.
• Expanding access to lawful pathways for migrants outside of CAM, including by enhancing regional refugee processing and working to reduce immigrant visa backlogs in the United States.

For more information, please read KIND’s Blueprint on steps to protect unaccompanied children on the move.

Media Contact: Megan McKenna, mmckenna@supportkind.org, 202-631-9990