Children fleeing violence, poverty and the devastating effects of climate change deserve protection
For more than 100 years, Save the Children has protected the world’s children from harm and ensured their rights are upheld. Today, we remain one of the only international non-governmental organizations responding to this crisis on both sides of the border, which is critical to addressing migration issues.
In 2021 alone, we supported over 236,000 people, including 97,000 children, with immediate humanitarian aid.
There is no single solution — alleviating the crisis at the U.S. Southern border will take a combination of advocacy, policy changes and humanitarian aid. Together, we must do everything in our power to help children and families seeking safety in the U.S. Donate today or join our political advocacy arm — Save the Children Action Network — to take action to help children at the U.S. border.
1. Why are children and families seeking safety and protection?
2. Seeking asylum is not a crime.
3. Every child has a right to safety, protection and a future.
4. Save the Children is working along the entire U.S. Border
5. We also advocate for children and families crossing the U.S. Southern border.
Political instability, gender-based violence, organized crime, corruption, poverty and social injustice have driven children and families from Central and South America, Haiti, West Africa and countries around the globe to seek safety and protection in the U.S.
Every child has a right to safety, protection and a future, regardless of who they are or where they’re from. Our nation has long served as a safe harbor for persecuted people, but the past years have eroded that proud legacy.
Recent U.S. government policies have made it almost impossible for children and families to seek asylum in the U.S. Often, these families are not allowed to make asylum claims or are sent back to dangerous conditions in Mexico or their countries of origin.
Children should not have to experience the trauma that comes from daily threats, a terrifying journey, forcefully being removed from their parents or being forced to sleep on cold floors and without access to hygiene and basic support services.
Save the Children works in Mexico and the U.S. along the entire border through a network of shelter partners and social service agencies. Our technical experts on child protection, social and emotional learning, early childhood and infant-and-young-child feeding equip border communities and respite shelters with expertise to address the unique needs of families seeking their help.
Together with our political advocacy arm, SCAN, we continue to advocate for the rights and humane treatment of the children and families crossing the southern border and their right to seek asylum.
Our advocates have sent more than 90,000 letters to Congress to date.
Unfortunately, policies implemented under the previous administration—currently being challenged in the courts—continue to have negative impacts on children’s wellbeing.
Donate and Take Action to Help Children at the Border
As Save the Children is helping meet the urgent needs of children and families, your donation to the U.S. Border Crisis Children's Relief fund can support our work at the U.S.-Mexico Border.
Join our political advocacy arm — Save the Children Action Network — to take action to help children at the U.S. border. Send congress a message to support the Biden administration in ending Title 42 and restoring asylum and fulfilling our promises to children and families.
A Timeline of the U.S.-Mexico Border Crisis
2013 - 2014
Between October 2013 and September 2014, over 68,500 unaccompanied children from Central America cross into the United States seeking refuge from unimaginable violence, brutal gangs, crushing poverty and other challenges in their home countries. Another 66,000 families — primarily mothers and their children — also arrive at the border after leaving their communities for these same reasons.
At the peak of the exodus in the spring and summer of 2014, children and families overwhelm the capacity of federal agencies charged with processing and providing minimal services for people entering the U.S. across the border.
Save the Children mobilizes a response to address the physical and emotional needs of immigrant children and their mothers.
In the months leading to April 2018, the U.S. government increases restrictions on immigration, with children bearing a significant burden of the policy changes.
In April, the administration announces a new “zero-tolerance” policy toward border crossings that instituted criminal proceedings for every adult caught crossing the border illegally.
The policy forcibly separates more than 2,300 children and their families, causing great trauma and harm. Very young children and adolescents are held in prison-like detention for extended periods with little to no attention to their emotional and physical well-being. Many parents, often mothers traveling with children, are also held in indefinite detention.
As a global leader in supporting family reunifications, Save the Children works to help parents locate and safely reunite with their children, and from there, supports them in getting access to essential services they need to re-establish themselves.
In late 2018, people from Honduras and Guatemala, intent on escaping violence and entrenched poverty, join caravans in the hope of reaching the Mexico-U.S. border.
By mid-year, legislation is proposed for children who arrive at the southern border to be held in federal custody for up to 100 days. Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) CEO Mark Shriver expresses his strong opposition, calling the legislation "a grave violation of children’s rights."
In June 2019, Save the Children Trustee and actress Jennifer Garner visits Save the Children’s newly opened programs in New Mexico, which are helping migrant children and families once they have been released from U.S. government detention centers.
By the end of June, Save the Children and SCAN generate more than 250,000 letters to the Administration and members of Congress, urging action to protect vulnerable children.
Nearly two years on, an estimated 70,000 Central American children and adults are currently “waiting” in border cities like Ciudad Juarez, Nogales and Matamoros, places rife with violence and exploitation that target this population.
Complete border closures in response to COVID-19 further exacerbated the situation so that children and families are immediately turned away without opportunities to make their asylum claims under due process.
March 2020 marks nearly 200,000 people having been “expelled” from the U.S. southern border – including 8,800 unaccompanied children.
In November 2020, the expulsion of unaccompanied children is finally stopped by the courts.
Save the Children urgently calls on the new Biden Administration and members of Congress, regardless of political affiliation, to come together around a shared oath for kids at home and across the world. This includes developing and acting on plans to humanely protect families seeking help on the U.S. southern border.
The number of unaccompanied children taken into border authority custody after crossing the southern border grows dramatically by the day – nearly 15,000 in January and February alone. Thousands of children are being held in short-term law enforcement facilities longer than the 72 hours allowed by law.
In May, the Biden administration announces a crucial step in the right direction – that it will begin to reunite families separated under the prior administration.
In June, reports surface that migrant children are being housed in inhumane conditions in a government-run shelter in El Paso, Texas.
In 2022, we held more than 50 meetings with members of Congress and the Administration to end exclusionary policies that impact children and families seeking safety and protection in the U.S.
We also worked closely with the Family Reunification Task Force, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and the administration to ensure that unaccompanied children can be reunified in a timely manner and receive all the necessary protections and services they deserve.
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