Stories of gang violence, abuse and persecution told by migrant children fleeing their homes in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico to make the perilous journey through Mexico to the United States have gripped the media this month.

Although these dangers and the children’s desperate search for safety and reunification with their parents in the US have been documented by activists in the region for the better part of the past decade, the dramatic rise in numbers of these children arriving at the US-Mexico border since 2013 has reached crisis proportions.

US government statistics released this month show that from October 2013 and May 2014, the US Border Patrol apprehended more than 47,000 unaccompanied migrant children arriving mostly to Texas and Arizona, culminating in an urgent humanitarian situation, as reception and processing mechanisms were neither adequate nor prepared.

This emergency has sparked diverse debates around understanding the root causes of violence in Central America, the reasons for the mass exodus of children, adolescents and young mothers with babies, and the role and response of the Mexican government, amid renewed debates on comprehensive US immigration reform.

The IDC expresses its concern about reports of US government actions and funding targeted at expanding immigration detention, while NGO and media reports show that the immediate humanitarian situation is increasing daily.

The IDC also urges Mexico to acknowledge its important role and prioritize the safety and care of migrant children within its borders.

Both in Mexico and in the US, there is a clear need for building capacity to care for these children on arrival, improved screening, access to asylum procedures and legal aid, scrutiny of detention and deportation practices including family separation, effective alternatives to immigration detention, strengthened international protection in the form of refugee or humanitarian status and priority on regional collaboration among states which respects the best interests of the child.

Amid the intense media debates, some NGOs are trying to get accurate facts into the public domain and proposing recommendations to work together towards short, medium and long term solutions. We share a few of these here. Please sign up to our Twitter account @IDCAmericas for current information.


Hoja informativa: Niñez migrante no acompañada en la región norte y Centroamérica: Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, México y Estados Unidos

Comunicado publico: Niñez y adolescencia migrante, protección no deportación

Los niños migrantes no tienen mañana

Agentes de EU violaron a menores migrantes antes de llevarlos presos a centros de reclusión: relator de la CIDH


Dramatic Surge in the Arrival of Unaccompanied Children Has Deep Roots and No Simple Solutions

New photos depict horrific conditions at border detention center

US border patrol struggles to shelter thousands of unaccompanied children

What is the right policy toward unaccompanied children at US borders?

The Urgent Humanitarian Crisis Doesn’t Begin or End at the Border

How to manage the increase in families and protection requests at the border

The plight of migrant children at the border highlights need to invest in Central America

Humanitarian crisis at our borders? Let’s rethink our approach