KIND México

Assisting Unaccompanied Children on Both Sides of the U.S.-Mexico Border

In recognition that migrant children need protection from the moment they leave their homes, throughout their migration journey and after they reach their destination, KIND México collaborates with civil society and government stakeholders to promote the rights of unaccompanied migrant children in Mexico and at the U.S. – Mexico border. Learn more about how we promote the rights of children on the move in the KIND México Fact Sheet.

What We Do

Legal Programs Border Team

KIND México’s legal programs team serves children migrating alone in search of safety along the U.S.-Mexico border by providing legal orientation, case screenings, and assistance to vulnerable, unaccompanied children on the move.

Documenting Conditions

KIND México partners with civil society organizations along Mexico’s northern and southern borders to observe and document the conditions that unaccompanied children face in Mexico.

Capacity Building

KIND México provides training to civil society and Mexican government actors on the U.S. immigration system, changes to U.S. immigration policy impacting children, and best practices for working with migrant children.

Advocacy in Mexico

KIND México’s advocacy team works with civil society and government actors to improve access to protection and rights for migrant children in Mexico, including the rights to a comprehensive best interests determination and legal representation.

U.S. Advocacy

KIND México works with the policy team to educate U.S. lawmakers on issues at the border, advocate for policies and resources that protect migrant children at the border, and ensure that U.S. foreign assistance to the region is invested in programs that promote and protect the rights of migrant children in transit.

KIND Mexico’s principles for migrant children

  • Best interests of the child should be at the center of every decision and interaction with migrant children. Consistent with Mexican and international law, best interests should also drive decision making in children’s immigration cases, care, and custody.
  • All migrant children in Mexico have a right to a best interests determination as required by Mexican law. Best interests determinations (BID) should be carried out by qualified child welfare officials. They should be individualized and comprehensive and should prioritize the child’s express wishes and well-being, as well as their rights to safety, family, liberty, education, and culture.
  • Best interests determinations should consider all potential options for safety and family unity for children, including seeking protection in Mexico, returning to the child’s country of origin, or seeking protection or family reunification in a third country.
  • Migrant children have the right to the consideration of their specific needs and best interests in the design, execution, and assessment of public policies affecting their rights.
  • Children should be given clear, child-friendly information in their best language about the BID process, legal processes, and any form of protection available for them in Mexico. Children must also be provided with information about their right to legal counsel and their rights to protection in Mexico during the BID process.
  • All migrant children in Mexico have the right to be represented by an attorney in asylum, immigration, and other legal and administrative processes, and their wishes and voice must be taken into consideration in accordance with the principle of best interests. Due weight should be given to the child’s express interests according to the child’s age and maturity level.
  • All children have the right to specialized procedures to adjudicate asylum and other claims for protection outside the country of origin. Adjudicators as well as all authorities protecting the rights of the child must be have specialized training in working with children and must provide a safe and child-friendly environment for interviews and other procedures. All procedures must take into account the specific needs and vulnerabilities of the child.
  • Children’s individual characteristics must also be considered in the adjudication of asylum claims and all other legal processes, including not only the child’s age, but also factors such as rights specific to children, the child’s stage of development, and the child’s specific vulnerabilities.

 

  • All migrant children in Mexico should have their rights protected. When a child’s rights have been violated, proactive measures should be taken to restore those rights.
  • Consistent with Mexican law, Mexican child protection authorities should create a plan for the restoration of the rights of the child based on an individualized best interests assessment that considers the child’s circumstances and needs. All relevant government authorities should comply with the protection measures included in the plan.
  • Migrant children have the right to be informed about asylum and to apply for asylum and other forms of protection in Mexico and have their applications fully considered in accordance with their right to protection and the principle of best interests of the child.
  • Migrant children in Mexico have the right to access asylum in Mexico and to access a third country, including the United States, for the purpose of seeking protection or family reunification.
  • Migrant children in Mexico have a right to full integration into Mexico society, including access to education, health, development, and safety.
  • In accordance with Mexican immigration, refugees and children’s rights laws and international laws, no child should be detained due to their immigration status. Detention is incompatible with the best interests of the child and seriously threatens children’s health, wellbeing, development, and safety. Detention not only prevents migrant children from seeking protection but also denies their rights to education, health, and family as guaranteed by Mexican laws and international human rights laws such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on economic social and cultural rights.
  • Migrant children have the right to safe alternatives to detention that include family- and community-based care options. These options provide appropriate care for children while they await a best interests determination, which will determine the best long-term care option for the child.
  • Migrant children should only be returned to their countries of origin when a comprehensive best interest determination by child protection authorities indicates that they are not in danger upon return and return is in their best interests.
  • When migrant children are returned from Mexico to their countries of origin, their rights should be guaranteed through coordination and cooperation between the relevant authorities of all countries involved. Countries of origin, transit, and destination should take actions to promote the protection of children throughout the return process and should invest in comprehensive reintegration support services for children.

Children's Stories

"In 2019, KIND helped a 4-year-old child in critical medical condition reunite with her mother in the United States, where she received life-saving medical care. Our Houston staff continues to work with the child and her mother to ensure that they receive the legal assistance and social services they need. "
"Alejandro* fled gang violence in El Salvador and came to the United States seeking protection but when he reached the U.S.-Mexico border he was turned back by U.S. officials and expelled into Mexico under the CDC order. Alone and without access to assistance in Mexico, KIND helped ensure that he was not expelled again when he returned to the U.S border to seek safety and was instead processed according to the standard procedures afforded to unaccompanied minors. KIND is continuing to help Alejandro by ensuring he has legal representation for his immigration proceedings."
"Juan* and Roberto* are teenage brothers who fled Honduras on their own, seeking safety and hoping to reunite with their father in Texas. At the border, instead of being given access to the process and procedures required for unaccompanied children by law, Juan and Roberto were held in a hotel in an unknown location for several days with no access to medical care or an attorney. Finally, a KIND attorney was able to intervene and halt their expulsion to Honduras. The two brothers were moved from the hotel to a licensed shelter for children and soon after released to their father. They are now seeking asylum in the United States. "

Resources

October 26, 2020

KIND México Fact Sheet

In recognition that migrant children need protection from the moment they leave their homes, throughout their migration journey and after they reach their destination, KIND México collaborates with c...

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December 10, 2020

KIND México Helps Children Alone South of the U.S. Border

Today as we celebrate International Human Rights Day, we think about our work protecting children on the move around the world. Earlier this year, KIND launched KIND Mexico to ensure the safety of chi...

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July 1, 2020

What is Happening to Children from Mexico & Central America

U.S. law has special protections to keep children traveling alone safe, and to protect them from human trafficking and return to danger. Since March 20th, the U.S. has been using COVID-19 as a pretext...

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April 29, 2020

Border Closure Exposing Children to Heightened Risk of Trafficking and Exploitation

In the midst of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is turning away unaccompanied children and asylum seekers at its borders, without first conducting ...

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August 2, 2019

Families and children face harsh and dangerous conditions at U.S.-Mexico border

Below, a KIND staff member reflects on a recent trip to the US-Mexico border at Juarez to observe conditions of migrant families seeking asylum in the U.S.

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June 3, 2019

Blocked from Safety: Unaccompanied Children along the U.S.-Mexico Border

An update to The Protection Gauntlet, this KIND report explains the danger and challenges unaccompanied children currently face in Tijuana and other parts of the U.S.-Mexico border.

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January 29, 2020

Remain in Mexico: Unlawful and Unsafe for Children

In January 2019, the Trump Administration began implementing a new policy that requires certain asylum seekers to wait in Mexico—rather than the U.S.—for the duration of the immigration proceeding...

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Referrals for KIND Border Work Assistance

Send an email to: kindmex@supportkind.org

or

Phone call:

  • From Mexico 55 71001542
  • WhatsApp – 202.918.9431

What information do you need?

  • Referring Organization and Contact Information
  • Last name, First name of the child
  • Last name, First name of the accompanying adult (if applicable)
  • How may we contact the child or responsible adult?
  • Where the child is located
    • Shelter name:
    • City, State
  • Is there an available sponsor in the US? If yes, provide:
    • Last Name, First Name
    • Contact phone number
    • City, State where they reside
  • Please note any urgent concerns if applicable:
  • Any urgent medical needs/issues:
  • Provide brief case summary and request:

Who can refer a case?

We consider all referrals, including referrals from individuals and families.

  • Unaccompanied or separated child (UAC) seeking protection in the US or Mexico.
  • UAC child seeking reunification in the US or Mexico.
  • Persons < 18.
  • Families at the border- Our goal generally is not to counsel family units – We can offer consultations that help families and children make informed decisions.
  • UAC who may be facing expulsion to Mexico or country of origin under Title 42 / ‘Covid policy’.
  • Migrant children with serious medical issues or disabilities.
  • KIND would also consult with parents who have been separated from their children and are seeking information or services.
  • KIND can offer guidance and orientation to sponsors when a child is in ORR custody.