Mothers Tell of Perilous Journey to US, Difficult Conditions as Border Crisis Grows

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Francine Uenuma 202.450.9153

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (June 25, 2014) — Thousands of children are in limbo in U.S. border areas after a long and dangerous journey to reach the United States, facing an uncertain future and difficult living conditions in facilities in Texas, Arizona, California, and Oklahoma.

Save the Children has spoken to several mothers who, in recent days, have crossed the border. They tell of being heavily in debt to smugglers after a grueling weeks-long journey from countries in Central America, and some said they were misinformed about immigration laws before leaving their homes.

Children in transit centers have been sleeping in cramped quarters, and parents say their children are dehydrated and some have fallen ill. There are reports of scabies and lice among children in close proximity in crowded facilities. Bullying is an additional concern, as children are sometimes separated from guardians, and therefore, more vulnerable.

"We are very concerned about what we have been hearing in recent days from mothers who have made the desperate decision to cross thousands of miles, despite the risks," said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. "These children are vulnerable to further harm, and we are working quickly to identify their needs and help provide them a safe space where they receive the age-appropriate care and support they need."

In addition to families who have fled, thousands of minors are now overwhelming border control institutions ill-prepared to meet the basic needs of such large numbers of unaccompanied children. Those numbers are only expected to grow in the coming weeks and months: according to government estimates, more than 47,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the border, with more than 60,000 expected this year.

Save the Children opened a child-friendly space in McAllen, Tex. on Saturday to provide psychosocial support and care programs that will serve an estimated 150 mothers and children each day. Child-friendly spaces are one of Save the Children’s signature programs to provide care and services to children in crisis, both in the US and globally.

Save the Children is also working closely with government agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services, to support their efforts and ensure children receive the support, care and protections they urgently need.

In Central America, Save the Children has worked for many years to address the needs of children facing poverty and violence, including in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood – every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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