On October 11th, 2019, Reuters released an exclusive investigative report on how the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP)—that being President Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy—is impacting young children. Since the policy was unveiled in January of 2019, Reuters found that the United States government has sent approximately 16,000 minors back to Mexico—a figure that includes nearly 500 infants. Here, our immigration lawyer in Los Angeles summarizes the findings from the news agency.
Reuters: Migrant Children are Being Sent to Overcrowded, Dangerous Areas
A Lack of Transparency
In recent months, reporters from Reuters sought information from the United States government regarding exactly how many children had been sent to wait in Mexico as part of the Migrant Protection Protocols. However, alarmingly, officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) declined to provide any details. In response, Reuters conducted its own independent research to get to the bottom of the matter.
Nearly One Third of All Migrants Waiting in Mexico are Children
Between January 2019 and October of 2019, around 50,000 migrants were sent back to Mexico as part of the MPP. In reviewing all available case information, Reuters determined that this figure includes:
- 16,000 minors;
- 4,300 children under the age of 5; and
- At least 481 infants.
Tragically, many of the migrant children and families are living in overcrowded, often outright dangerous conditions.
Many Migrant Children Lack Access to Basic Medical Care
As an example, Reuters highlighted the story of a young mother named Blanca Aguilar. Originally from Guatemala, she fled her native country fearing for her health and safety—hoping to obtain asylum in the United States. After arriving at our southern border, she was returned to Mexico to wait while her claim was processed. She is now living in a small tent in the backyard of a church near Tijuana. The encampment has become overcrowded with mothers their children.
Ms. Aguilar reports that her two-year-old son developed a significant cough and that there is simply a lack of medical resources in the area. Indeed, many of the children are sick. An American-based non-profit called the Refugee Health Alliance has doctors and nurses on the ground in Mexico helping asylum seekers. However, a representative for the group told Reuters that the effort is very difficult to organize in Mexico.
Crime is Also a Problem in Border Towns
Beyond the inadequate medical care, many of the areas that migrant children are being returned to have high rates of crime. Robberies, kidnappings, assaults, and sexual violence have all been reported at high rates in the area. These border towns are simply not safe places for migrants—especially families with young children.
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