U.S. Border Crisis
Increasing numbers of children fleeing violence and insecurity in their Central American and Mexican communities are seeking refuge form violence and poverty in the United States. Watch the 'Generation in Crisis' video and see the current border crisis and Save the Children's efforts to secure the safety of children.
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A silent crisis is unfolding in Central America and Mexico and at stake is a generation of children. Last year we saw an exodus of children and families embarking on a life-threatening trip covering tens of thousands of miles and facing unfathomable horrors to reach the United States. This trend is unfortunately continuing into 2015.
From October 2014 to February 2015, more than 100,000 children risked their lives to reach the US border. They have experienced harmful and dangerous events along the way, lured by promises of safety and economic prosperity in the US. More than 68,000 unaccompanied children made it across the Mexican border into the US in 2014 and more than 18,000 children were turned back, detained and then repatriated. Upon repatriation, these children have to return to lives that they fled in the first place; lives that are often afflicted by violence, poverty and bleak prospects the future. Our country offices report that children are returning stigmatized and often feel sad and hopeless, having spent a fortune ($5,000-$10,000) and "failed."
It is our mandate at Save the Children to look at how children can be better protected along the route of migration, at the destination locations and upon their return to the countries of origin. Another critical component of this response strategy is how to prevent migration in the first place, by addressing root causes such as violence, poverty and lack of access to basic services. Through increasing access to basic and vocational education, violence prevention programs and advocacy towards the governments to address the situation, we can improve children’s lives and help stem the flow of migration.
Stories from Children on the Borderline
Benito* celebrates his 10th birthday at our Child-Friendly Space near the U.S. border in McAllen, Texas.
Young Eduardo* sadly left his home in El Salvador because home had become a far too dangerous place.
Gabriela,* recently widowed, fled her home – all to fulfill her dream of giving her children a better life.
Mother of four, Sofia* risked everything to attain a better future for at least one of her children.
Both Mother and daughter tell us their stories of escaping gang violence and poverty in Honduras.
Halfway through their harrowing, month-long journey to the U.S. border, Paloma* considered turning back.
Andrea* was fearless in the face of danger to save her little one, in the hopes of giving her daughter a better life.
After a local school teacher was killed in front of students, Maribel* and her son left their Honduras home.
Carmen* was pregnant when she left Honduras with her two young children.
Diego* spent his 7th birthday in a U.S. Customs Border Protection facility.
Gang members demanded that Beatriz pay $2,000 or they would kill her children.
"We don't come here to do any harm. We come because we don't want to be killed."
A new helper has joined Save the Children in our Child-Friendly Spaces.
This documentary outlines the plight of children trying to enter the USA.
The Impact on Children
Many of the children who are arriving at the U.S. border are escaping unthinkable violence, and some have been victimized during their long journey. Children are suffering from a variety of illnesses, dehydration and diarrhea. They are in urgent need of protective adult care and supportive supervision, medical and hygiene care and nutritious meals.
The border crisis has worsened as children are being held in detention facilities until they can be reunited with a family member or transferred to foster-care type settings (for children younger than 12) or large detention shelters (for children older than 12). However, because the system has been overwhelmed by the influx of children, the Customs and Border Patrol quickly established large detention processing sites, where as many as 1,200 children may be detained during that process.
Looking ahead, the following areas of intervention will be our priorities in 2015:
Save the Children is advocating that the U.S. Government move quickly to transfer children out of border protection facilities, immediately improve the difficult conditions they face and to allow child protection experts to assess and monitor the border protection stations where the children are first processed.
We will also advocate for a long-term response that includes private/public collaboration to address the needs of these children. Regardless of immigrant or refugee status, we #choosechildren.
Our Programs in Central America
Save the Children country offices in Central America are providing protection programs to help ensure the protection and safe treatment of children in their counties. We will be working with partners in the region to explore how we can expand this work to address both the protection needs and underlying causes of this migration.