unaccompanied-minor

"Children do not migrate -- they flee"

As one Guatemalan migrant shelter official told Orlinsky, “Children do not migrate—they flee.”

A young boy gathers wood in Quetzaltenango. The area has one of the highest levels of child migration in the country. Many of the children are economic refugees. In addition, a large population of Guatemalans from the area are already living in the United States and Mexico.

Paula (right) does not go to school and instead works washing clothing with female family members in the town of Los Duraznales.

A 16-year-old child migrant stands outside a government-run shelter in Quetzaltenango. The teenager was caught by the Mexican authorities and deported a day earlier. She was on her way to Ohio to meet her mother, who left 12 years ago.

A four-year-old stands outside her home in Quetzaltenango with her aunts. Along with her mother, she attempted to migrate to the United States, but they were caught in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico. Family members say they were imprisoned and abused before being deported back to Guatemala. The girl’s mother continues to be unable to eat or speak after the experience.

The Alonso Lorenzo sisters, from left to right: Romina, 12, Alysa Karina, 16, and Isabel, 8, in Concepción Chiquirichapa. The sisters are orphans; their 14-year-old sister recently migrated to the United States, where she works to help support them. They currently live with their aunt in a cramped two-room home. All three sisters hope to migrate to the United States as soon as they can.

A girl studies against a wall in Guatemala City. Gangs and violence are one of the leading causes for child migration from Guatemala.

Jonathan, 13, works in a Guatemala City cemetery cutting and arranging flowers. He says he goes to school in the afternoons.

All photos by Katie Orlinsky for Too Young to Wed, in collaboration with Humanity United.

There’s a reason I said I’d be happy alone. It wasn’t ‘cause I thought I’d be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone, and then it fell apart, I might not make it. It’s easier to be alone. Because what if you learn that you need love? And then you don’t have it? What if you like it? And lean on it? What if you shape your life around it? And then… it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It’s like dying. The only difference is… death ends. This? It could go on forever.
—  Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo)
Grey’s Anatomy 7x22 “Unaccompanied Minor”

Leaked Photos Show Immigrant Children Packed In Crowded Texas Border Facilities

SAN ANTONIO — Photos leaked Thursday from a U.S. Border Patrol facility in the Rio Grande Valley show overflowing holding facilities of immigrants, many of whom are children.

The photos show hundreds of immigrants believed to be in the country illegally from Central America and Mexico being held in crowded concrete rooms similar to a jail cell. Many of the children appear to be teenagers but some clearly are younger.

The photos have a timestamp of May 27, 2014.

A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the agency has not “officially released any photos at this time in order to protect the rights and privacy of unaccompanied minors in our care.”

The number of Central American children arriving at the US border has doubled from last year

Before the current debate over Syrian refugees, and before this summer’s European migrant crisis, the United States confronted a humanitarian emergency of its own last year. More than 68,000 children from Central America made it to the US after fleeing rampant gang violence in their home countries. After a brief lull, families and unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are again crossing into country in large numbers in recent months.

The renewed arrivals revive a heated political debate about just how much this country ought to accommodate children and families who are escaping deadly conditions in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala—which rank first, fourth, and fifth in the world, respectively, in homicide rates.

Between the start of October and the end of November of this year, 10,588 children traveling without a parent or guardian were apprehended by Customs and Border Patrol at the southwest border, more than double the 5,129 who were apprehended during the same two months of 2014. And that’s not all. More than 12,500 children and their guardians were taken into US custody during the same time frame, a 173 percent increase over the 4,577 family units who were apprehended at the US-Mexico border in October and November 2014.

“There was never the downshift you usually expect with migration patterns and weather,” Mohammad Abdollahi, advocacy director at the Texas-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), told The Nation. “The trend we’ve noticed is increased violence [in Central America] means an increase in people fleeing and coming here,” Abdollahi said.

There’s a reason I said I’d be happy alone. It wasn’t because I thought I’d be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone and then it fell apart, I might not make it. It’s easier to be alone, because what if you learn that you need love and you don’t have it? What if you like it and lean on it? What if you shape your life around it and then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It’s like dying. The only difference is death ends. This? It could go on forever.
—  Meredith Grey
26 US Senators ask Obama to grant TPS to Guatemala, El Salvador & Honduras

Al menos 26 senadores estadounidenses firmaron una solicitud de TPS para los migrantes guatemaltecos. (Foto: Archivo/Soy502)

The 26 senators expressed their concern about deporting vulnerable groups, particularly women and unaccompanied minors, asking President Obama to award these countries Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in times of violence and political uncertainty. 

Wouldn’t expect too much, though – Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales has already asked for TPS four times since taking office.

It’s been a year since thousands of unaccompanied minors surged into the U.S., overwhelming some school districts. These children, many of whom don’t speak English and have lived through violence, trauma and abuse, pose a serious challenge to schools. Some districts weren’t ready. Oakland, Calif., was.

A Year Later: The School System That Welcomed Unaccompanied Minors

Illustration: LA Johnson/NPR

Lexie: You have to stop. You gotta stop talking to me, and checking on me, and talking to my boyfriend. I love you. And i’m always gonna love you. But i don’t want to love you, i want to be happy. And Jackson makes me happy and if you keep pulling at me, i’ll come back to you.
Mark: You’re right. I’m sorry.
Lexie: You got what you want. You wanted a family. Please let me have what i want.
Mark: I said you were right. 

Grey’s Anatomy 7x22 - Unaccompanied Minor

There’s a reason I said I’d be happy alone. It wasn’t ‘cause I thought I’d be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone and then it fell apart, I might not make it. It’s easier to be alone. Because what if you learn that you need love and then you don’t have it? What if you like it and lean on it? What if you shape your life around it and then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It’s like dying. The only difference is death ends. This? It could go on forever.
—  Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy
Migrant children in Texas were forced to endure "ice boxes"

Imagine being taken into a room. It is cold – very, very cold – and you shiver under the single layer of clothes that is all you are allowed to wear. The room is concrete and entirely bare: nothing on the walls, no furniture, no bedding of any sort other than the thin sheet you have been given. The only window allows guards to look in at you, but gives you no view of the world outside.

You sit in the room, huddled on the cold, hard floor, seeking warmth under the sheet. The room is lit by neon lights that are kept on 24 hours a day, and after a while you lose track of time. Is it day, is it night – you no longer know. Though there are many other people in the room with you, they are all strangers and no-one speaks to you. You are utterly alone.

And you are 7 years old.

Keep reading

For the past year now, many Americans have been hearing and reading about the 68,000 unaccompanied minors who have crossed illegally into the U.S. Nearly all of these minors come from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras, and since their arrival, immigration officials have released most of them to their parents or relatives who already live in this country.

A number of these children and teenagers are in deportation proceedings, but while they wait, they have been allowed to attend public schools. In Louisiana, schools have enrolled nearly 2,000 of them.

The adjustment — for the students and the school — hasn’t been easy.

A New Orleans High School Adapts To Unaccompanied Minors

Photo Credit: LA Johnson/NPR

4,600 Central American Kids Have Applied for Refugee Status. 11 Have Gotten It.

Migrants walk along the tracks in Ixtepec, Mexico, in July 2014. Eduardo Verdugo/AP

In September 2014, in an effort to keep more child migrants from risking the dangerous journey north, President Barack Obama approved a plan to let some Central American kids apply for refugee status without leaving their home countries. Now, more than a year later, only a tiny fraction of applicants have gotten approval to come to the United States.

Roughly 4,600 kids have applied to the Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program. To be eligible, minors must be from El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras, and they must have a parent living legally in the United States. However, just 90 applicants have been interviewed so far by the Department of Homeland Security, the final step before the government makes a refugee decision.

Of those, 11 have been conditionally approved for refugee resettlement in the United States. Another 76 have received humanitarian parole—a category, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, that is “used sparingly to bring an otherwise inadmissible alien into the United States for a temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency.”

Meanwhile, another 35,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended along the US-Mexico border in the 2015 fiscal year, which ended in September, and tens of thousands more have been picked up in Mexico, where the government recently cracked down on Central American migrants at the request of the United States.

A State Department official who asked not to be named defended the program, noting that the small number of interviews is the result of a lengthy screening process that can take 18 to 24 months. “We all would like that to go faster,” she said. Wendy Young, executive director of Kids in Need of Defense, a nonprofit that helps find pro bono counsel for immigrant and refugee children, said that while the program is a start, “it hasn’t, frankly, been a perfect system.”

 - Ian Gordon for Mother Jones