HomeNewsBriefReport: Mexico Assumes Role of Turning Migrant Children Back
BRIEF

Report: Mexico Assumes Role of Turning Migrant Children Back

EL SALVADOR / 4 APR 2016 BY STEVEN DUDLEY EN

Human Rights Watch has chronicled violent drivers of the continuing child migration crisis, as well as how the US government has stealthily outsourced to Mexico the job of returning these kids to their often perilous homes.

The report titled “Closed Doors: Mexico’s Failure to Protect Central American Refugee and Migrant Children” (pdf) was based on 61 interviews with “refugees, asylum seekers, or migrants” between the ages of 11 and 17; more than 100 adults from the so-called Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala; as well as 65 interviews with officials and workers with governmental and non-governmental organizations who work on these issues.

The children told Human Rights Watch (HRW) researchers harrowing stories of flight from street gangs in the Northern Triangle region.

“I was in school, in the ninth grade,” one child migrant told HRW. “One day the gang came up to me near the school where I was studying. They told me that I needed to join the gang. They gave me three days. If I didn’t join them, they’d kill me.”

The child said he left before the gang-imposed deadline.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Human Smuggling

Nearly half the children told HRW they were fleeing the violence or street gangs, the report says, something which coincides with research by InSight Crime.

The report's main conclusion is that the Mexican government is not following its own or international laws on how to deal with what are effectively refugees. Instead of processing them as asylum cases, the kids are routinely misinformed or not informed about their rights, placed in detention centers and then returned to their countries of origin.

“Our research found wide discrepancies between Mexico’s law and the way it is enforced,” the report says.

InSight Crime Analysis

There are two separate but related conclusions worth highlighting in this report.

First, the child migrant crisis is not over, it has simply shifted south. Mexico’s National Migration Institute (Instituto Nacional de Migración - INM) detained 36,000 migrant children during 2015, according to the report, just over half of whom were unaccompanied.

“In combination, Mexican and US authorities apprehended almost 75,000 children from Central America’s Northern Triangle in calendar year 2014 and 68,000 in calendar year 2015, figures that include accompanied as well as unaccompanied children,” the report says, citing US Customs Border Protection statistics.

The findings suggest that, despite their disappearance from US news cycles, Central American children continue to be driven northward by extreme violence in their neighborhoods.

The invisibility in the US of this ongoing crisis is related to the second important conclusion: the United States has purposely shifted the task of dealing with these children to Mexican authorities, a responsibility that the Mexican government has willingly taken on.

The report notes that INM detentions of migrant children increased by 275 percent between 2013 and 2015.

The shift in responsibility comes as the US begins considering how to spend a $750 million aid package for the Northern Triangle, which is, in part, designed to slow the flow of migrants north.

The question is whether Mexico's increased role in detaining children, and the political stress associated with it, will steer resources away from those who need it most.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

JUDICIAL REFORM / 28 NOV 2014

In an effort to quell the outcry over the enforced disappearance of 43 student protesters, allegedly murdered on the orders…

HUMAN RIGHTS / 27 DEC 2018

A recent report concluded that, in Venezuela, government security forces were responsible for 37 percent of the homicides that occurred…

EL CHAPO / 19 JUL 2012

The nephew of Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been murdered at his home in Sinaloa state, west…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Criminal Enterprise on the High Seas

12 AUG 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an extensive investigation into Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing that plagues the waters of nine Latin American countries. Among the stories were how…

THE ORGANIZATION

Oceans Pillaged in Central America and the Caribbean

5 AUG 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the first installment of a nine-part investigation uncovering the hidden depths of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in Latin America. The first installment covered Central America and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela’s Tren de Aragua Becomes Truly Transnational

29 JUL 2022

This week, InSight Crime published a deep dive into the total control that Venezuelan mega-gang, Tren de Aragua, has over the lives of those it smuggles between Venezuela and Chile…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkish Traffickers Delivering Latin American Cocaine to Persian Gulf

15 JUL 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an investigation piecing together the emerging role of Turkish cocaine traffickers in supplying Russia and the Persian Gulf, which are among…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkey as a Lynchpin in European Cocaine Pipeline

8 JUL 2022

InSight Crime is extending its investigation into the cocaine pipeline to Europe, and tracking the growing connections between Latin American drug traffickers and European criminal organizations. This led us to…