More Kids from Central America Crossing Alone
Today, more and more unaccompanied minors are crossing the border between Mexico and the United States. They are children less than 18 years of age who are traveling with strangers, are generally undocumented and usually are from countries in Central America. Many of the kids are from El Salvador say authorities, while a spike in the number of kids from both Honduras and Guatemala is taking place.
On Monday, during a meeting at the Migration Policy Institute about unaccompanied children, a glimpse of the reasons the youth, some only six years of age, are taking the dangerous journey by themselves. The meeting was to determine the best way to assist the children once immigration officials have located them.
One of the methods of transportation for many of the children is on a freight train that runs from southern Mexico near the border with Guatemala to northern Mexico near the border with the U.S. The train is nicknamed the death train as many have fallen off to their death or tried to jump on and lost their lives. Others who were luckier fell and lost an arm or a leg but survived.
Other children traveling alone have been assaulted by corrupt Mexican authorities, Mexican drug cartel members and by smugglers themselves. Despite the constant risk, the children continue to cross the border.
In 2009, over 6,000 minors traveling alone were stopped by immigration officials and turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. In 2010, that number increased to 8,000. During 2011, the number dropped to just over 7,000, but is expected to spike for the year 2012.
Close to 77% of the minors were males. Of that 77%, 36% were Guatemalans; 25% Salvadorans; and 20% Hondurans.