Each year, the United States Border Patrol stops 17,000 young Mexicans trying to enter the United States illegally, according to a new study released Friday by the Washington Office of Latin America (WOLA).
The report also states that these youth, most of whom are fleeing situations of violence, including being exploited by gangs, are “rarely listened to” or asked about the risks they faced at home. They are deported almost immediately.
“There are many problems with the evaluation of children: Often interviews are conducted in a public environment that intimidates children, agents do not have adequate training to deal with vulnerable children and often do not know how to ask about abuse and trafficking,” the WOLA study stated.
According to the report, “Mexican Immigrant Children Forgotten at the Border,” Mexican children do not see the same kind of protections afforded to minors from Central America when they are detained at the U.S. border.
Last year, tens of thousands of children tried to enter the U.S. illegally from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, leading to President Barack Obama calling the situation on the border a “humanitarian crisis.”
The United Nations warned Obama that people coming from these countries should be treated as refugees as they are likely fleeing situations of violence, prompting the U.S. to implement certain protections for them. However, these migrant children still face eventual deportation.
A similar report was released by the U.N.’s refugee agency, which says 59 percent of all the unaccompanied Mexican minors detained at the border are fleeing situations of violence. The group also states that less than 5 percent of Mexican children detained at the border actually get the opportunity to present their case in front of a migration judge to determine whether they are eligible for protection in the U.S.
The WOLA report concludes by asking for greater investment and resources into violence prevention programs in Mexico and for better training for border security services on how to deal with and assess child migrants.