Washington: The United States is forcibly returning almost all unaccompanied Mexican children without adequate screenings or protection from the harms they may face upon return, Amnesty International said in the new report published today.
Children account for one in three migrants and asylum-seekers in the US-Mexican border. Mexican President López Obrador and US Vice President Harris met this week in Mexico City, they pledged to increase coordination on immigration enforcement across the region, which translates into the forced return of thousands of unaccompanied children to Mexico.
“The Biden administration is summarily returning almost all unaccompanied Mexican children just hours after they seek safe haven, often without considering the risks they could face upon return. Likewise, Mexican authorities are deporting the vast majority of unaccompanied children from Central America to their home countries – often where they just fled threats or violence – even though most have family in the United States with whom they are trying to unite,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, America’s director at Amnesty International.
Guevara-Rosas urges the United States and Mexico to stop denying unaccompanied children their universal human rights to seek asylum and to family unity.
Since President Biden took office in January 2021, about 50,000 unaccompanied migrant children have crossed into the United States in search of safety. Some 80 percent of those unaccompanied children are trying to unite with family members in the USA, and about 20 percent are from Mexico.
Despite President Biden’s promise to halt turning away unaccompanied children, the Biden administration is still returning those Mexican children, through the misuse of an anti-trafficking law that allows the USA to expeditiously repatriate children from Mexico or Canada.
US law requires that the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency screen unaccompanied Mexican children before any such returns, in order to ensure they are not victims of trafficking or at risk of harm if returned. Yet lawyers, representatives of children’s shelters, and child-welfare authorities in Mexico told Amnesty International that the US still swiftly returns almost all unaccompanied Mexican children even when they are unsafe in Mexico and are seeking asylum in the USA.