September 9, 2020
Many of the children fleeing their countries to seek safety in the United States are escaping severe forms of gender-based violence (GBV), including violence by gangs, child sexual abuse, and intra-familial violence. Rather than allow these children to seek protection in the United States, the Trump Administration is summarily turning them around at U.S. Ports of Entry and pushing them back into Mexico, despite the lack of government or civil society support for the returned children. As a result, thousands of girls and boys are living in fear in makeshift camps and tent cities without protection or support. Unaccompanied children are especially vulnerable to sexual violence, human trafficking, and exploitation by cartels and other criminal groups that control areas along the U.S. – Mexico border.
These vulnerabilities have been exacerbated under the COVID-19 pandemic, as rates of gender-based violence have increased and survivors face new barriers to accessing protection and support.