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Numbers of Latino Migrant Children are ‘Very High’, warns UNICEF

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs statistics in the UNICEF report, more than 75,000 nationals from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were deported during 2015

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A young migrant girl waits for a freight train to depart on her way to the U.S. border, in Ixtepec, Mexico, July 12, 2014. In a report, the U.N. children's agency said that thousands of children trying to escape gang violence and poverty in Central source: VOA
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The U.N. children’s agency warns the flow of migrant children from Central America to the United States continues at a high rate, despite the dangers of the journey and the risk of deportation.

In a report released on Tuesday, UNICEF says in the first six months of this year 26,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S. border. Nearly 30,000 more adults and young children traveled as families.

Most are from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, three of the world’s poorest and most crime-ridden countries.

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“These numbers are very, very high,” said Patrick Moser, who authored the report. “There is no indication that they will get any lower. The conditions in the countries are such that children will continue leaving.”

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Families pay huge fees to smugglers, known as coyotes, to bring them and their children north to a better future.

Violent, harsh journeys

But for many, the journey is violent. Young girls, in particular, face the risk of rape. Migrant children must also cross harsh desert terrain and rivers to reach the U.S.

Many never reach the United States. This year, more than 16,000 migrant children were apprehended in Mexico. Hundreds of others will die during the dangerous and difficult journey, and much more will go missing at the hands of kidnappers, human traffickers, and murderers.

Those who do make it to the United States face detention and deportation.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs statistics in the UNICEF report, more than 75,000 nationals from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were deported during 2015.

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For children, UNICEF says that can “end up being a death sentence,” putting those who fled gangs and organized crime at risk of attack, rape, and murder when they return home.

Central American migrants embrace as they wait for assistance at a center for newly-arrived migrant families with children, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas. Assistance includes clothes, a meal, a shower and access to medical care source: VOA
Central American migrants embrace as they wait for assistance at a center for newly-arrived migrant families with children, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas.
source: VOA

“We have to remember that whatever their migration status or nationality, children are, first and foremost, children,” Moser said. “They deserve protection, they need protection, and they are entitled to protection.”

He said that can mean safety from gang violence or drug cartels in their countries of origin or, on the migration journey, protecting them from kidnapping or human traffickers.

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When unaccompanied child migrants are detained at the U.S. border, they are sent to government-operated shelters or are put in foster care homes. UNICEF says they are often in this situation for about one month and are then are handed over to sponsors, who are often relatives.

No legal resources

But many children do not have automatic access to immigration lawyers, the report says. Some children receive free legal help from charitable groups, but others are left to fend for themselves in a foreign legal system.

“In the United States, a defendant is entitled to a court-appointed attorney in a criminal case. These immigration cases are civil cases,” Moser notes, so children are not automatically entitled to a free court-appointed attorney.

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Upset with President Barack Obama's immigration policy, about 250 people march to the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement office with a goal of stopping future deportations in Phoenix, Arizona. Source: voa
Upset with President Barack Obama’s immigration policy, about 250 people march to the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement office with a goal of stopping future deportations in Phoenix, Arizona.
Source: VOA

According to statistics quoted in the UNICEF report, about 40 percent of children without a lawyer are more likely to be deported than those who have representation. Those with lawyers had only a 3 percent deportation rate.

UNICEF said children should not be detained and should have full access to health care and other services, as well as be allowed to live with their families whenever possible.

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For those who are sent home, UNICEF works with local governments and partner organizations to help children who have been traumatized by their journey and to get children who are ready back into school. (VOA)

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  • Kabir Chaudhary

    America, a country founded by immigrants and run on the manpower of immigrants, should not force them to leave the country.

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Modi must speak up on violence against women, children: Rahul

During the protest, Gandhi slammed the Prime Minister over the repeated incidents of violence, rape and murder of women in the country

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Rahul Gandhi (Twitter)

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence” over the rape incidents in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao was “unacceptable”. He prodded him to speak.

He also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party governments in these states of “protecting rapists”. “Mr Prime Minister, your silence is unacceptable. What do you think about the growing violence against women and children? Why are accused rapists and murderers protected by the state? India is waiting. Speak up,” Gandhi said in a tweet.

Rahul Gandhi becomes president of Congress as mother Sonia Gandhi steps down
Rahul Gandhi attacks Modi again on his inability to secure women and children. Wikipedia

In another tweet earlier, Gandhi thanked people who had taken part in the midnight protest in Delhi against the “slumber” that the Modi government was in and sought justice for the victims.

“Thousands of men and women stood up to be counted in the battle for justice and to protest the rising acts of violence against girls and women.

Also Read: Rahul Gandhi Points at PM Modi to Vacate the Seat over Gas price Hike

“I thank each and everyone of you for your support. It shall not be in vain,” Gandhi said while attaching pictures of people who participated in the protest. Gandhi, who had led the protest Thursday night, was joined by his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her husband Robert Vadra, hundreds of party workers and senior party leaders.

During the protest, Gandhi slammed the Prime Minister over the repeated incidents of violence, rape and murder of women in the country. “We want the government to take action. Today, women are feeling insecure to move out of their houses. Somewhere a child, a woman is raped, killed and we want that the government should resolve this. The women of the country should feel safe,” he had said. IANS