Washington, DC – As President Biden prepares to welcome Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to the White House for the first North American Leaders’ Summit since 2016, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) is urging the leaders to craft a regional vision for migration that prioritizes the protection of unaccompanied children on the move.
“The Summit is a key opportunity to address migration issues, including the safety of unaccompanied children who continue to flee violence and insecurity in Central America in growing numbers,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “Unaccompanied children migrating through or to Mexico, the United States, and Canada deserve the protection of policies rooted in the region’s longstanding commitments to child well-being, safety, and due process. Children fleeing for their lives deserve access to safe passage and humanitarian protection.”
KIND notes that there is widespread concern that a number of immigration policies in the region are based on an ineffective deterrence-based strategy that fails to live up to the governments’ commitments enshrined under international refugee and human rights law. As leaders gather at the White House, KIND urges that they:
- Formulate concrete strategies that prioritize the safety and best interests of migrant children escaping violence in their countries of origin.
- Ensure that all unaccompanied children are screened and processed according to U.S., Mexican, and international law that provides access to humanitarian protection, and that they are not pushed back across borders or turned away.
- Collaborate to address the root causes of migration, including gender-based violence and gang violence, among others, while simultaneously ensuring that those fleeing violence have a pathway to safety.
- Commit to programs that provide an alternative to the dangerous migration journey, like the Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee and Parole Program, while also doubling-down on efforts that ensure humane treatment and processing of migrants seeking asylum at borders across the region.
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