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

BARRIO 18 / 18 DEC 2012

Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes has refused to back a proposal from the country's gangs to repeal a hardline…

GULF CARTEL / 19 APR 2011

Mexican police announced the discovery of five mass graves near a shooting range in the municipality of Santa…

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 16 JUL 2021

Illegal fishing is out of control in the Mexican state of Yucatán, say local fishermen and media, as illegal techniques,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…