Mexican immigration authorities are returning children that might qualify for formal protection from violence in Central America, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said April 1 in a report. The report states that by law "Mexico offers protection to refugees as well as to others who would face risks to their lives or safety if returned to their countries of origin," but that less than "1 percent of children who are apprehended by Mexican immigration authorities" are recognized as refugees or offered other formal protection. In addition, HRW found that children are not guaranteed legal or any other assistance and those who are face prolonged detention in either closed facilities or "prison-like" settings. HRW stated that part of the reason Mexican authorities are apprehending more migrant children today is that the US has provided increased financial support to Mexico for immigration enforcement since mid-2014.
Last month HRW announced the filing of an amicus brief in a US federal court arguing that the failure of US government officials to appoint lawyers to represent migrant children facing deportation violates their basic rights under international law.
From Jurist, April 1. Used with permission.
Note: HRW finds that Mexico's apprehensions and detention of children increased by 140% from 2013 to 2014, and unaccompanied children accounted for just under half of all children apprehended during 2014. Apprehensions of children by Mexican authorities again increased in 2015: apprehensions of all children rose by 55% and apprehensions of unaccompanied children by 70% as compared with 2014. The vast majority of these children—over 97%—were from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the violence-torn "Northern Triangle" countries of Central America.