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Monday, June 16, 2014


Unaccompanied Migrant Children – 'a Tragedy of Enormous Proportions'


Alberto Aguirre M. (El Economista)


In contrast to the policy pursued by the Obama administration, regarding the irregular migration of children and young people to the United States, here the Mexican Congress rather than executive action would respond to the problem.


In the Mexican Senate, Senator Gabriela Cuevas (PAN), president of the Foreign Relations Committee, has worked overtime to give visibility to this issue, but the delineation of [Mexico's] structural reforms has put a freeze on her efforts.


In the Chamber of Deputies, the former PRD governor of Zacatecas [Amalia García] even has a list of proposed legislation, however neither her fellow party members or the directors of the Chamber of Deputies have wanted to turn to look at this contemptuous phenomenon that specialists call "unaccompanied children."


About 12 years ago, the PRI government of Sonora – that was then headed by Eduardo Bours Casteló – documented the presence of dozens of children on the streets of San Luis Río Colorado. Their parents had gone [north into the USA] via the Sasabe desert, abandoning them to their fate.


Since then, the number of unaccompanied children fleeing crime, violence, and family problems in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico has increased exponentially, making a tragedy of enormous proportions visible. In the past year alone the number of migrant children arriving in the United States increased 92%, and of those more than 47,000 [have crossed the border in 2014]. The projections of the Department of Homeland Security note that this could rise to 90,000 cases by the end of fiscal year 2014. A decade ago, just 5,800 children came alone to the border annually.


Mexican children remain the protagonists of this story, that is now attracting the attention of the Obama administration, but available evidence shows that the current wave is coming from the northern countries of Central America. Surveys done by the United Nations' High Commissioner for Refugees indicate that approximately half of these children are driven by criminal insecurity; 21% due to abuse and other problems at home; and the rest by other forms of violence.


The arrival of these refugee immigrants is not a phenomenon occurring only along the banks of the Rio Grande. Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama have seen a 435% increase in the number of children coming from the northern area since 2012.



"Niñez migrante," Alberto Aguirre M., El Economista, Mexico, D.F., Jun. 10, 2014; edited translation by

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